Liberia: EPA Laments Continuous Destruction of Wetlands; Vows Stronger Actions against Violators￼
MONROVIA – The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, has lamented the extent to which wetlands in Monrovia and its environs are being destroyed. He says, the Agency would not take such encroachments lightly.
According to Prof. Tarpeh, the destruction of the wetlands is a blatant violation of Ramsar Convention to which Liberia is a signatory.
Liberia became a party to the Ramsar Convention on November 2, 2003. It is an international treaty for the conservation and use of wetlands.
Prof. Tarpeh said the wetland destruction is happening at an alarming rate and the consequences are being felt in communities. He named some of the consequences as flooding, water pollution, and damaging the natural habitat of some aquatic species, and it even causes vector-borne diseases, among others.
According to him, the destruction to wetlands are caused by human-induced activities as construction, contrary to Sections 74 & 75 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia, which EPA used to set specific guidelines or standards for the management of rivers, lakes, wetlands, and parts of the marine and coastal environments of significance.
“These actions on the part of our people to destroy the wetlands continue to undermine the integrity of this fragile ecosystem of importance. As you may know, Liberia is a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands,” he said. “Therefore eyeing stringent measures to serve as a deterrent to those involved in those unwholesome acts,” he said.
Wetlands in Liberia and around the world play an important role in the processes that keep landscapes healthy and productive. They maintain water quality, provide habitat for commercial species, and have cultural and recreational values. Wetlands host a huge variety of life, protect our coastlines and provide natural defenses against river flooding or storm surges and store carbon dioxide to regulate climate change.
The wetlands that are being destroyed play a crucial role in the ecosystem by Preventing flooding by absorbing water; ensuring that the soil provides a unique breeding ground for vegetation that feed fish; giving shelter to animals; and purifying water by removing sediments.
Prof. Tarpeh said the Agency would continue its rigorous clampdown on those involved in wetlands degradation and their structures.
“The EPA is about to move in a strong way to put an end to the continuous encroachment on wetlands. Our people need to know that their actions are harmful to the environment. We heard how wildlife such as snakes and crocodiles were entering some dwelling places threatening the lives of our people during the heavy rainfall,” Tarpeh said.
“I want to strongly advise our people to stop destroying the wetlands.”
He also advised local administrators against the issuance of squatters’ rights within the wetlands that house the mangrove forests.
“The mangroves are there to prevent our homes from being flooded; do not build dwelling homes in the swamp and; do not dump waste in the wetlands,” Tarpeh warned. “We also want to advise our people to stop all those harmful practices that continue to degrade our wetlands, thereby compromising their health and livelihood.”
For the last several years, Tarpeh said the EPA has embarked on several actions to protect our wetlands including the development of the National Wetlands Policy, increased awareness about the importance of the wetlands, and demolition of illegal structures at strategic locations.
“Presently, we have our technicians in Monrovia and its environs carrying on awareness about the importance of protecting the wetlands and also collecting flood data,” the EPA disclosed.