LEKKI CONSERVATION CENTRE
Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC) is one of Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) foremost conservation project site. Located on the renowned Lekki Peninsula, LCC covers a land area of 78 hectare. Administratively, LCC is situated in Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State.
How LCC Started
The establishment of LCC was born out of NCF’s relentless commitment to conservation of Nigeria’s vast natural resources. This commitment was heightened by the presence of its National Secretariat in Lagos, thus warranting the need have a conservation project site within Lagos metropolis that will serve as biodiversity conservation icon and environment education centre. This laudable concept could have come at no better time going by the daily degradation of the city’s remaining natural environment fragments due to ceaseless urbanisation; thus, making LCC one of the few natural environment relics within the city.
To move the idea of conservation project off ground, three potential areas were surveyed in 1987 by NCF technical team in partnership with the defunct Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative. Thereafter, Lekki area was selected to establish the demonstration site for the conservation project. Locating the conservation project on Lekki Peninsula informed the name of the project – Lekki Conservation Centre.
As Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh says “conservation without money is conversation.”The task of sourcing a suitable site for conservation project was not an end in itself as significant financial resources was require to acquire the 78 hectares of land. This daunting task may not have been possible save for the generous financial support of the two old giants, Gulf Oil Company (Nigeria) Limited and Chevron Oil Company (Nigeria) Limited. The two oil giant that later merged into one formidable entity, Chevron Nigeria Limited has been LCC’s benefactor from inception till date.
True to the dream of NCF, the LCC Complex foundation pillar – plaque of LCC was unveiled on 18 February 1989 by the President of WWF, HRH, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at the southern end of the LCC land area. Also present at the memorable occasion were the Governor of Lagos State, Brigadier Gen. Raji Rasaki; founder and President of NCF, late Chief S. L. Edu; Dr. A. P. Leventis and other distinguish guests.
The proposed location of the LCC Complex was later shifted to the northern side beside the expressway to facilitate tourists and visitors’ easy access to the Centre. The LCC Complex was officially opened on the 18th of May 1990. The change in location of the LCC Complex from the southern part to the northern part of the Centre’s land area could not have been better as the Complex overlooks the expressway. It is almost impossible for passersby not to have a second look at the ingenious architectural design of the LCC Complex well laced with breathe taking greenery.
The Purpose of LCC
LCC was solely established to serve as a conservation icon of Nigeria’s southwest coastal mangrove resources and an information centre for environmental education and awareness raising. Over the years, visiting students from various academic cadres have been able to learn through their visit to LCC practical steps to conserving our God given natural resources. LCC is also an environmental education resource centre to non-educated and semi literate visitors. The compelling flora and fauna resources enclosed within the LCC, no doubt inspires a desire to support the course of conservation in the hearts and minds of the visitors. “how can I support NCF’s conservation programme”, “I never imagine there is a place like this” or “I must bring my family…colleagues here” are some of the remarks commonly heard from tourists that visits LCC.
Key achievement over the years
Over 1.5m tourists of more than 100 nationals have visited LCC since inception. Most of NCF’s School Conservation Clubs were established following the impact of students/teachers’ visit to the Centre. It will suffice to say that LCC has achieved, and it is still achieving the goal of educating the public both young and old on the need to conserve natural resources. The various tiers of government are not left out from paradigm shift from infallible conservation lessons learnt from visiting the Centre.
Thus, NCF is always invited by government environmental agency to play a role in meetings where sensitive decision will be made on environmental management both at State and Federal level. In addition, different State Governments have approached NCF to provide technical assistance to manage their biodiversity hotspots – forest reserve, game reserve and game sanctuary.
Some of the important dignitaries that visited the Centre in the last few years including Chief Emeka Anyaoku, President WWF and former Commonwealth Secretary General; Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism;
LCC is managed by a Project Coordinator who is ably supported by Education Officers, Game Guards and Auxiliary staff. Aside the permanent project staff, some NCF staff such as Account Officer and Technical Programme Department (TPD) staff play secondary role in LCC management.
LCC 78 hectare land area is craftily divided into two sections: LCC Complex and the nature reserve. The LCC Complex comprises of striking multi-purpose Rotunda surrounded by four office blocks. The office blocks contain project staff offices, gift shop, canteen and the drivers’ office. The facilities of the LCC Complex area were expanded in 1998 with the construction of the National Secretariat at the rear of LCC Complex.
The nature reserve traverses a mosaic of vegetation types, namely: secondary forest, swamp forest and Savanna grassland. One notably impact of conserving the LCC land area over the years is the significant growth of the secondary forest since the Centre was acquired. In 1998, one can view 100m into the secondary forest through the windows in Technical Programmes Department. But today, the distant view distance has been reduced to as less as 5m sequel to the commendable growth of the secondary forest.
A trail boardwalk was constructed in 1992 to the enrich tourists/visitors view of the vast resources of the nature reserve which is encapsulated on a mangrove terrain. The trail stretches a length of 2 Km. some of the side attractions along the trail are swamp outlook, bird hide, rest stops and the tree house.
The swamp outlook affords tourists, especially nature lovers’ mouth watering opportunity of sitting back to beyond aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem interaction. On the other hand, the bird hide enables avid bird watchers snipe at unaware avifauna that are wading through the pool overlooked by the hide or foraging within the vicinity. The tree house is one of the most fascinating features one can ever come across in an ecotourism zone. The tree house, stylishly seated on a stout dawadawa tree (Pakia biglobossa) rises above 25m. A well protected ladder is ruggedly mounted behind the tree to enable nature enthusiasts reach to tree house to savour the panoramic view of the tree canopy. The rest stops as the name implies serve as rest points and picnic site for small groups of visitors. They are located at about 250m apart on the nature trail boardwalk.
At the end of trail boardwalk seats the nation station. The nation station is a recreation island in the middle of a forest. It has a semi-enclosed block structure containing the indoor picnic facilities and conveniences. The outdoor has outdoor game facilities mostly for children.
The New Nature Trail Boardwalk
The initial trail boardwalk constructed in 1990 for easy access into the nature reserve was designed to last a period of 5 years. In 1997, the trail underwent a substantial maintenance. This was supported with minor maintenance from time to time. A major maintenance took place in 2002 to boost the shell life of the trail. All these maintenance activities lasted till 2006 when the trail began to fall apart. The uncompromising call for rebirth was not devoid of huge financial demand.
Attempts to outsource support to reconstruct the trail boardwalk proved abortive. Chevron the sole benefactor was later approach. The call was promptly attended to like the cry of a baby in the ears of the nursing mother. A sum of N40.8m was donated by Chevron to reconstruct the trail.
The reconstruct took a year from start to finish. A new construction concept was introduced to one of the loops of the trail. Rather than using the traditional wood only style, the wooden boardwalk was suspended on a metal framework.
LCC is evolving a new phase of education and recreational activities to strengthen the existing management approach. The developments will contribute immensely to the Centre both structurally and in the style of operation.
Some of the notable developmental activities that will be put in place include: introducing school education programme which will be aired on TV. The aim of the school programme is to show the younger generation how to contribute to natural resources management and to also imbibe in them the culture of conservation. The programme will feature a renowned conservationists, naturalists or celebrity depending on the tag of the event e.g. a date with Nike Batik, learn the skill of nature photography with Kelechi Amadi-Obi, the art of bee keeping with Temidayo Osinubi and so on.
Another programme of its kind is organising periodic social events such as two aside (i.e. couples outing), I love my family (i.e. family outing), tête-à-tête (i.e. friends outing), man and nature, work out (i.e. exercise session), buddies let’s talk (i.e. CEOs casual outing), festive season specials – Easter, Christmas, sallah, children’s’ day etc. These social events will take place in LCC for limited number of participants. It is expected that these events will enable participants enjoy nature and also relieve themselves of typical Lagos life pressure – leaving home before dawn to return after dusk, working Monday to sometimes Sunday.
TRENDS AT NCF PROJECT SITES
NCF has carried out several projects across the country. Within the last year, projects have been initiated and or executed. Below is an overview of trends at NCF project sites.
How Projects are conceived
With an appreciable knowledge of environmental challenges facing the country as well as the different ecosystems, NCF has conceived projects based on perceived need and priority of the specific environmental challenges identified and the urgency of interventions that are needed. NCF is also affiliated to many local and external environmental founders.
Through effective collaboration with partners, projects are also identified based on the requirements and interests of NCF Partners, but those projects are considered based on priorities and technical capability of the NCF.
In 2006, NCF reviewed her 5-year strategic plan which expired in 2005. The review of the NCF Strategy gave birth to a new strategic plan tagged “Focusing on Biodiversity NCF 2007 and Beyond” The new strategy will provide a priority framework upon which project management, policy advocacy, environmental education and partnership development will be based.
How Projects are implemented
NCF has a National Secretariat at the Lekki Conservation Centre, Lagos from where all projects are supervised. The secretariat is manned by qualified and dedicated technical/scientific staff who are supported by communications and administration staff to ensure smooth running of projects.
There is Regional Office in Calabar as well as project offices in Oron (Akwa Ibom State), Gashaka (Taraba State), Nguru (Yobe State), Obudu Cattle Ranch (Cross River State), Yenegoa (Bayelsa State), Buru and Yelwa (Taraba State) Benin City, Ugo, Ugoton and Ajoki (all in Edo State). We also have collaborative project outposts at IITA Ibadan (Oyo State) and Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary (Cross River State). These offices are manned by staff with direct responsibilities for implementation of projects and reports are forwarded to the office periodically.
NCF also has individual local and expatriates collaborators who act as consultants to our projects.
List of Technical Projects across the Nation
This section presents a list of NCF technical, education and advocacy projects that were implemented in 2006.
TECHNICAL CONSERVATION PROJECTS
One of the major achievements of the Technical Programmes Department was the development of a year strategic plan. This was carried out through the support of NCF Scientific Committee. A two day workshop was organised from where a five year strategic document was produced. This has been summarised into a small pamphlet document that can be easily read and understood by all NCF supporters.
NCF Abuja Policy Office
Recognising the importance of policy advocacy in facing biodiversity conservation and natural resources management challenges, NCF launched the campaign to establish a Policy Office in Abuja, Federal capital city of Nigeria in 2006. The rationale for the establishment of this office is to improve NCF efficiency in addressing policy issues and achieving effective collaboration with national institutions and developing bilateral relationship with foreign missions and international organizations.
As NCF continues to solicit for moral, financial and infrastructure support towards establishing the policy office, NCF remain grateful to Mr. A P Leventis for the donation of an office space for NCF Abuja Policy Office in 2006. We have opened discussion with our various partners on this laudable objective and have the hope that the NCF Office in Abuja will be launched in the nearest future with their support.
Important Bird Area (IBA)
NCF continued with monitoring and data gathering at the different IBA sites. There was an extensive monitoring and data gathering activities at the Hadejia Nguru Wetlands. The reports were sent to the BirdLife Africa Secretariat in Kenya to feed into the global database.
The IBA is a global initiative of BirdLife International aimed at identifying and protecting a network of critical sites for the conservation of the world’s birds. Birds’ presence is an indication of biodiversity richness of natural ecosystems. There are 30 IBA sites in Nigeria. The value of the IBA approach is that it sets global conservation efforts in local context, enabling networks of people to conserve networks of sites for birds and other biodiversity nationwide.
Through collaboration with AP Leventis Ornithological Institute domiciled at the University of Jos, Plateau State Nigeria, NCF’s efforts at promoting birds biodiversity conservation continue to wax stronger both in the area of birds biodiversity research as well as field and species actions on birds.
Enhancing Local Capacities for Sustainable Biodiversity Action in Africa
This is a regional Project involving six countries and sponsored by UNEP-GEF with BirdLife International Africa Secretariat as the major contractor. NCF as a Partner of the BirdLife Africa is the national NGO in Nigeria to execute the project. The Nigerian component of the project included the development of a proposal for the effective management of Okomu Wildlife Sanctuary.
The project identified socio economic, legal and management issues concerning the Reserve as well as determined the training, capacity development and infrastructural requirements for the conservation of the Reserve.
Participatory Forest Management in Donga Valley and Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State.
This ongoing project which is in its second year is being executed in collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID),
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the DARWIN. It is a part of a larger programme that aims to ensure sustainable management of the forests of Taraba State through the establishment of a greater role for communities in forest management. The expected results include participatory conservation and management of forest resources; reduction of poverty among the local communities through the development and management of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP); and establishment of local forest management committees to ensure sustainability of the project after its formal completion.
The success stories and the unique achievements made through local community empowerment on natural resource management in Buru, Kurmi Local Government, Taraba State is a pointer to the fact that community participation in forest resource management can yield benefits both for biodiversity conservation and improvement in livelihood of forest based people.
Tagged the Buru model, the project has recorded tremendous achievements in the area of community level governance, biodiversity protection, NTFP management and technical knowledge development of resource user groups. The Buru model is being adapted as much as possible in various other locations where community governance and local level natural resource use management are crucial to conservation in Nigeria.
Lekki Conservation Centre (LCC)
The LCC was a conservation initiative to protect a type of the wildlife found along the Lekki axis of Lagos metropolis in the face of sprawling urban development. This 18-year-old conservation education centre has continued to attract both local and international interests. The Centre has served, as an education and resource centre to varieties of group’s majority of which are schools and tourists.
In 2006 conservation year, a total number of 10,420 (Ten thousand four hundred and twenty) tourist visited the centre among which are Children: 5309, Adult: 2252, Chevron staff: 1714, and NCF members: 1145. The project has promoted environmental protection and worked against poaching by surrounding communities as well as serve as a tourist centre for local and international visitors. Continuous environmental education, awareness creation and research activities are carried out in the Reserve.
NCF Conservation Project in the Gashaka Gumti National Park (GGNP)
NCF remains proud of her long-term commitment to conservation of Nigeria’s most diverse conservation area. The project, which started in 1991 following the establishment of the Gashaka Gumti National Park, was focused on research, infrastructure development, support zone management and protected area management planning.
Its focus was reviewed within the past two yeas towards supporting more research and conservation work on primates most particularly chimpanzee populations in the Gashaka Gumti region. Since inception more than fifteen years ago, this project is being supported by World Wildlife Fund for nature (WWF)/Department for International Development (DFID)-UK.
NCF’s activities within the Reserve in 2006 involved effective coordination of the local communities for conservation actions such as anti-poaching and biodiversity surveys; rural development activities; and provision of infrastructures to enhance livelihood and reduce rate of resource degradation. The overall goal of the project since 1992 remained to: Maintain biodiversity levels and ecosystem functions of GGNP for the benefit of local people, the nation and future generations.
Wings Over Wetalnds (WOW)
WOW is a regional project involving about 11 countries who are signatories to the AEWA agreement for the conservation of sites used by migratory waterbirds. Demonstration projects was conceived and billed to start in 2006 to reduce the rate of degradation and maintain the integrity of the wetlands.
The Demonstration site for WOW in Nigeria is the Hadeija Nguru Wetlands located in Jigawa and Yobe States. The project will be implemented within a period of two years and it aims to ensure livelihood enhancement of the local communities, improve the wintering ground used by migratory waterbirds, equip the Hadejia Nguru Wetland Conservation Centre and enhance the tourism potential of the wetlands.
The Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands is a critical biodiversity site that not only provides the basic natural resource requirements for the surrounding communities but is also a critical wintering ground for paleartic migratory waterbirds.
Development of Management Plan for Ifon Forest Reserve, Ondo State
NCF was commissioned in 2006 to serve as Technical Partner to develop a management plan for the Ifon Forest Reserve in Ondo State. A biodiversity survey of the Reserve was carried out as the first phase activities of this project. The result of the survey has led the government to ban all illegal activities going on in the Reserve. The government of Ondo State is also set to promote the tourism potentials of the Forest which is expected to
Ondo state project staff.
create avenue for income generating activities for the local communities as well as the state government. NCF has secured international funding for further conservation activities within the Reserve.
Biodiversity Action Plan – Edo State
The Biodiversity Action Plan which is one of NCF project site commenced its Implementation in March/April 2007 after several preliminary negotiations has been done. A project sponsored by Shell Production Development Company (SPDC) houses two forest reserves which include Urhonighe Forest Reserve and Gele-Gele Forest Reserve.
Improved cassava stems distribution.
The purpose of the project is to conserve biodiversity and to provide livelihood support programme for the communities around the forest reserves. It was on this note that the Forest Management Committee (FMC) was established in each community, consisting of all categories of individual in the communities that have a stake in the forests so as to decide how the reserves will be managed.
South East Regional Office
Building partnership and taking field based conservation actions are the main approaches of the NCF South-East Regional Office. In 2006, NCF collaborated with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Fauna and Flora International and a number of other local and international NGOs to organise and participate in the 3rd International Conference on the conservation of Cross River Gorilla. An outcome of the workshop is the development of a Regional Action Plan on Cross River Gorilla.
The NCF also collaborated with the Cross River State Forestry Commission, the FFI and other members of the Afi Partnership to facilitate a study on the potentials for habituation of populations of Cross River Gorilla on Afi Mountains in northern Cross River.
The Regional Office continues to manage the Becheve Nature Reserve on Obudu Plateau. In 2006, NCF signed a Memorandum of Understanding to lead field conservation efforts in Afi Mountains Wildlife Sanctuary. Through her partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna and Flora International (FFI), NCF continue to be focused and coordinate field based conservation efforts in the south-south and south-east geo-political regions in Nigeria.
ENVIRONMNETAL EDUCATION/AWARENESS PROGRAMMES
NCF Environmental Education Series
NCF secured Exxon Mobil’s support for the review and production of the Environmental Education Series which are used in some of Nigerian Universities to teach environmental education. The proceeds from the sale of the series will be used to develop the same from of environmental education books for secondary and primary schools.
Global Environment Programmes
NCF has used the opportunity of several environment related celebrations around the world to educate and create more awareness of environmental issues in Nigeria and the world at large. It has also encouraged through these programmes, conservation actions amongst its various target audiences.
In 2006 World Environment Day, World Migratory Bird Day and World Wetlands were celebrated. Activities that have been engaged in to mark these days include Floral and Fauna Fancy Dress Competition; Pass it on; giving of presentations; photo contests and symposia.