Preserving LUFASI, a privately Protected Area within the densely populated Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria.

LUFASI
Published: 15 October 2018
Last edited: 14 January 2022
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Summary

The Lekki Urban Forest and Animal Sanctuary Initiative (LUFASI), a green space in the Lekki Peninsula of Lagos, Nigeria, provides ecological benefits which contribute to the social economic development of the people and mitigating climate change issues in Lagos and Nigeria - at large. However, due to habitat mismanagement practices like heavy encroachment and littering, the LUFASI flora and fauna gets disturbed. In addition, there is a lack of awareness on the importance of the protection of our forests and its benefits. With the establishment of proper habitat management techniques such as constructing an erect boundary fence to dissuade unauthorised entry and implementation of rigorous sensitisation campaigns in the nearby communities, schools, organisations, and the public via designation of nature trails, our interactive workshops provision of informative brochures on the importance of our forests. 

Classifications

Region
West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Local
National
Subnational
Ecosystem
Coastal forest
Forest ecosystems
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Tropical deciduous forest
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Theme
Culture
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Local actors
Mitigation
Poaching and environmental crime
Restoration
Science and research
Species management
Challenges
Erratic rainfall
Floods
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Tsunami/tidal wave
Ecosystem loss
Poaching
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Inefficient management of financial resources
Infrastructure development
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction

Location

Lagos, Nigeria

Challenges

Environmental:

  • Forest Encroachment: Lagos’s increasing urbanisation puts pressure on the remaining green spaces in the city. Since LUFASI’s inception, there have been cases of unauthorised tree loggers entering, cutting down trees and collecting firewood. Poachers have killed most of the Blue Duikers (Philantomba monticola) in their natural habitat for bushmeat. The critically endangered Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) were hunted in the forest for traditional purposes. Outsiders have been caught using the forest as a linking corridor and farm sites.

Socio-Economic

  • Lack of environmental awareness on forest protection: LUFASI’s educational outreach of 2,000 people monthly is still insufficient in creating a positive behavioural change to forest protection. There are several government officials whose nonchalant stances have trickled down to the education system where 70% of pupils visiting are clueless of the importance of green spaces (like LUFASI) in a highly populated Lagos.

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Beneficiaries

The LUFASI forest and its biodiversity.

The schools: In 10 schools having 1000 pupils each.

The community: Across 10 communities having about 100 people each.

Direct Audience: 16,100 people

Indirect Audience (print and electronic media) 100,000 people

 

How do the building blocks interact?

As the deforestation state of the Lekki Peninsula has become quite appalling especially its increasingly negative effects on the very life support ecosystems in the state, LUFASI came into fruition to address the issue of limited green spaces within urban areas to serve recreational and educational purposes through activities that aim to conserve its forest, educate the public, and collaborate with stakeholders. LUFASI’s 20ha forest had a boundary fence constructed to minimize intruders and the habitat was maintained and managed in order to create an aesthetic forum to enlighten the public on the importance of forest conservation and other environmental issues. These have made LUFASI gain the attention of schools and public at a local level and needs to be scaled up to national and maybe global levels in the country that is least concerned about the fate of our forests. With the sensitization campaigns of the importance of the protection of the health of our forests via our educative tours, booklets and workshops, there will be habitat management efforts like erection of the boundary fence, improving nature trails and the addition of forest themed informative placards occurring simultaneously.

 

Impacts

Environmental: The installation of LUFASI’s boundary fence restricts access into the forest. It is left undisturbed with plants being left to grow and the wildlife seeking protection, thereby stabilising their populations for a balanced, functioning ecosystem. In addition, the green belt provides a more oxygenated environment by purifying the air from excess carbon dioxide while producing oxygen for the environment. The presence of trees also help to purify our ground water through their roots and also help to hold our soils to prevent erosion.

Socioeconomic: It has been scientifically proven that forests provide preventive healthcare services (via forest bathing) in decreasing the risk of heart attack and improving energy levels and better sleep. LUFASI’s privately protected forest offers employment opportunities to people including those of the neighbouring communities. Currently LUFASI has a staff strength of 30 workers including unskilled workers. Through our social media platforms, tours and workshops, LUFASI offers an educational platform for the public on the benefits of forests to empower the public with garnered knowledge of its importance to our sustenance. With a mix of school pupils, rural communities, government officials and the general public, LUFASI reaches out to a minimum of 12,000-15,000 tourists yearly.

 

 

 

Story

Emo Photography

After having worked and lived in Kenya for 3 years, over 30 years ago, I had become quite inspired by the Kenyan’s sustainable management of their environment to provide multiple job opportunities with a good income stream through agriculture and ecotourism. I was thus led to delve into farming on my return to Nigeria, where I acquired land on the Lekki peninsula for this purpose. I observed first hand, during the process of establishing my agroforestry palm plantation, the extremely rapid and brutal transformation of a large portion of the Lekki axis. Over the past 25 years, the pristine mangrove swamp forest with small, scattered and mildly benign settlements was transformed into a cluttered and overcrowded urban sprawl with very little consideration for the crucial role of the coastal wetland in the ecosystem. This compelled me to follow the Nigerian Conservation Foundation example to preserve a small portion of this unique habitat, which contained some rare species of Flora and fauna. With the cooperation of the Lagos State Government, we were able to gazette a 20 acre portion of the farm as a reserve with 99-year lease tenure on the Certificate of Occupancy.

During this period one had become quite appalled by the increasingly negative effects humanities footprints were having on the very life support ecosystems of the planet which were manifesting themselves mainly through massive species loss and global warming induced climate change. A situation that would eventually become irreversible and with totally catastrophic consequences. The fact that this has been brought about through gross ignorance and a hard-hearted lack of caring for nature has resulted in one deciding to dedicate one’s life to try to reverse this trend. The dedication of the Lekki Urban Forest Animal Sanctuary Initiative (LUFASI) to providing multiple platforms and tools for creating awareness to the public of the looming danger lurking if the environment isn't cared for.

LUFASI became an urban forest to connect people to interact with nature, while being a refuge for many fauna species like the African Civet Civettictis civetta,  Blue Duiker Philantoba monticola, Nile Monitor Varanus niloticus, over 60 avian species including the Critically Endangered Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus,insect species, amphibian and reptilian species like the Western Green Mamba Dendroaspis viridis.

 

Desmond Majekodunmi.

 

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Desmond Majekodunmi

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The Lekki Urban Forest and Animal Sanctuary Initiative (LUFASI)