By Lewis S Teh
Authorities at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alarmed over increasing waves of destruction of wetlands by unauthorized citizens across the country.
“The action on the part of our people by constructing in wetlands areas continue to undermine the integrity of this fragile ecosystem of importance”, the EPA says, and adds that Liberia is a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia Tuesday, August 9, 2022, EPA Executive Director Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh said, the construction of houses in wetlands areas causes serious destruction of the country.
Prof. Tarpeh explains that the EPA is the arm of government that is responsible to protect and manage the environment and ensuring that Liberia honors her international obligations in protecting and managing the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
“As you may be aware, our country is endowed with six (6) major wetlands of international importance; all of which play an important role in the ecosystem”, he underscores.
The EPA boss continues that Wetlands serve as habitats for plants (mangroves, water lilies, algae) and animal species (fishes, turtles, birds, snakes, crocodiles).
He says Wetlands serve as the sponge of the environment with absorption capacity, and they serve as a habitat for fishes to lay eggs, while also serving as nutrients of the environment.
According to Prof. Tarpeh, the deposit of soil nutrients is found in wetlands for soil fertility and serves as kidney of the environment in helping to filter unwanted materials as well as liver of the environment in helping to detoxify materials within the environment.
They also serve as a reservoir in storing waters, as a major shore stabilizer to prevent flooding.
“Wetlands are under severe threat mainly from human activities such as cutting of the mangrove’s forests; growing wave of illegal human settlement; indiscriminate dumping of waste; usage of dynamite to kill fishes and many others harmful practices.”
Prof. Tarpeh recalls that for the past several years, the EPA has embarked on several actions to protect wetlands, including Developing National Wetlands Policy; creating jingles that to increase awareness about the importance of protecting and managing wetlands in a sustainable manner.
He adds that the EPA also erected billboards in hot spots in Monrovia, along SKD Boulevard in Paynesville, demolished illegal structures along the SKD Boulevard and other areas, including stop orders to inhabitants wanting to construct in wetlands.
At the same time, he narrates that citizens’ actions are having severe consequences on the environment such as pollution of wells, giving rise to vector-borne diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, etc.
He names Johnsonville, Gardnersville, Tweh Farm, Dwazon, Joe Bloh Town along the Robertsfield Highway, among communities that are being flooded, saying “We witnessed last month during the eight (8) days uninterrupted rainfall in Monrovia and its environs.
Meanwhile, the EPA has urged local administrators to desist from selling wetlands to citizens, calling on local administrators to help in ensuring that no one is giving squatters’ rights within Wetlands that house the mangrove forests.