As Nigeria joins the global community to commemorate World Wildlife Day, Bayelsa State governor, Duoye Diri on Friday called for more awareness on biodiversity conservation in schools across the state.
Speaking with newsmen on the significance of the World Wildlife Day as part of activities to mark the day in Yenagoa, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Tourism, Mr Piriye Kiyaramo said environmental education impacts knowledge about the current situation and future prospects of nature.
He commended Gov. Duoye Diri for banning logging and other deforestation activities in the state as part of efforts to protect the state’s forest reserves and rare plant species.
According Kiyaramo, a well-designed ecotourism strategy can support biodiversity conservation and promote sustainable tourism development, whilst protecting natural and cultural heritage values in protected areas.
He cited the newly approved Edumanom National Park located in parts of Ogbia and Nembe local government areas where some of the last chimpanzees in Nigeria are found and that of the Apoi Creek National Park located in Southern Ijaw local government also Bayelsa State that harbours some endemic and endangered species like the Niger Delta Red Colobus monkey, amongst other species, as forest reserves to be explored for ecotourism and conservation education.
The governor’s aide described environmental education as a fundamental aspect of ecotourism that characterises ecotourism and differentiates it from other forms of nature-based tourism.
Mr Kiyaramo, popularly known as “Mr Tourism” reiterated that ecotourism education can increase visitors’ knowledge of the environment and attitudes of visitors towards the protected areas, as well as promote pro-environmental attitudes and behavioural patterns in general.
He noted further that: “though ecotourism is considered as a good way to develop environmental values among tourists, not much attention has been given to the educational impact of ecotourism on young children, describing it as an unfortunate oversight on the part of stakeholders and policy makers.
The Senior Special Assistant on Tourism stressed the need to engage children to play in ecotourism sites as a way of supporting children to learn about nature with a view to nurturing it sustainably in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 15.
The SSA on Tourism explained that ecotourism education for kids could be directed at understanding the relationship between pre-school aged children and nature, using the theoretical concept of play-based learning as a pedagogical method.
Recall that World Wildlife Day globally celebrated every March 3, is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that their conservation provides to people.
The day also reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime and human-induced reduction of species, which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.
Given these various negative effects, Sustainable Development Goal 15 focuses on halting biodiversity loss.
Through conservation education, people develop the critical thinking skills they need to understand the complexities of ecological problems, just as it encourages people to act on their own to conserve natural resources and use them in a responsible manner by making informed resource decisions.