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  • Writer's pictureEnyenaweh Research

Understanding the linkages Between Biodiversity, the Nigerian Land Use Act, and Inclusive Governance

Biodiversity, land use, and governance are three interwoven concepts in environmental studies. They interact with one another in complex ways to shape the landscape, quality of life, and prosperity of any society. These concepts are particularly influential in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country. This article explores the relationship between biodiversity, the Nigerian Land Use Act, and inclusive governance in Nigeria.


**Biodiversity in Nigeria**


Nigeria is a country rich in biodiversity, encompassing several ecosystems ranging from mangroves, rainforests, and savannas to freshwater and marine ecosystems. Its biodiversity has immense potential to contribute to the nation's socio-economic development, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism. Despite this potential, Nigeria's biodiversity is under significant threat due to habitat destruction, climate change, pollution, and overexploitation of resources.


**The Nigerian Land Use Act**


The Land Use Act, enacted in 1978, is a critical legislation governing land management in Nigeria. It vests all land within the state's territory in the governor, who is responsible for its allocation for various uses. The intention was to streamline land ownership and use, ensuring optimal and equitable utilization for the benefit of all citizens. However, the Act has raised some concerns over its years of operation.


One major issue is the top-down approach of the Act, which has often been criticized for sidelining local communities and disregarding their customary rights to land and resources. This approach not only jeopardizes local livelihoods but also negatively affects biodiversity. Local communities often have intricate knowledge of their environments and, when empowered, can effectively manage and protect biodiversity.


Another issue with the Land Use Act is its favoritism towards agricultural and industrial land uses, often at the expense of environmental and biodiversity conservation. As the demand for land for farming and industrial activities increases, habitats are destroyed or fragmented, directly impacting Nigeria's biodiversity.



**Inclusive Governance**


Inclusive governance is a political process where all stakeholders, including marginalized and vulnerable groups, have a say in decision-making. It emphasizes democratic participation, accountability, transparency, and the rule of law.


Inclusive governance is vital when discussing biodiversity and the Land Use Act in Nigeria. Incorporating inclusive governance principles can help to address some of the flaws of the Act. For instance, it could foster meaningful community participation in land use decision-making processes. Local communities can provide unique insights and knowledge, promoting more sustainable and biodiversity-friendly land use strategies.


Moreover, inclusive governance can ensure that land use plans are transparent, equitable, and considerate of socio-economic and environmental factors. It allows for a fair balance between development needs and biodiversity conservation.


**Linking Biodiversity, the Land Use Act, and Inclusive Governance**


The interlinkages between biodiversity, the Land Use Act, and inclusive governance in Nigeria are clear. Effective and inclusive land use governance can facilitate sustainable practices that safeguard biodiversity. Conversely, non-inclusive land use governance, as witnessed in implementing the Land Use Act, can lead to biodiversity loss.


Therefore, the Nigerian government must revisit the Land Use Act to make it more inclusive. Such reforms should involve local communities in land use decision-making, recognize and respect their customary land rights, and promote sustainable land use practices that conserve biodiversity.


**Conclusion**


Nigeria's biodiversity, Land Use Act, and inclusive governance are interconnected. Addressing the challenges in one area could have positive impacts on the others. By incorporating inclusive governance principles into the Land Use Act, Nigeria can harness its rich biodiversity for sustainable development. This would necessitate a delicate balance between economic growth, social equity, and environmental conservation. Still, the result would benefit Nigeria's people and its natural resource wealth.


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