Nigeria names new portion of Lake Chad

Nigeria names new portion of Lake Chad

17 March 2008

Nigeria's part of Lake Chad added to the Ramsar List

The Secretariat is pleased to announce that Nigeria has designated 'Lake Chad Wetlands in Nigeria' (607,354 hectares, 13°04'N 013°48'E) for the List of Wetlands of International Importance. The designation is effective 30 April 2008, but the announcement and conferral of the site certificate will be made at the summit of heads of states and governments of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in Abuja on 25-26 March. The WWF Global Freshwater Programme has supported the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Environment in developing this and nine further designations by Nigeria that are presently in the pipeline at the Secretariat.

According to Evelyn Moloko Parh, based on the Ramsar Information Sheet, the large new Ramsar site is in northeast Nigeria, bordered by Niger to the north, Chad to the northeast, and Cameroon to the south. It comprises a disjointed complex of permanent freshwater marshes (formerly inundated as part of Lake Chad), some rivers and their deltas, and the remaining part of Lake Chad. The main feature, Lake Chad, is an historically large, shallow lake whose size has varied greatly over the centuries. The major vegetation types include grasses, sedges, floating macrophytes, and shrubs, which form important habitats for a great variety of Palearctic migrating waterbirds, including the vulnerable Marbled Teal. The lake supports some indigenous fish species and is economically important, providing water, fish and other resources to the surrounding populations. Agriculture is also greatly practiced around the wetlands. Threats to the site include recession of lake waters due to climatic influence and upstream dam construction, and the consequent continuing desiccation of the wetlands. The only element of management in the area is provided by the Kanuri traditional rulers, who see to the sale of fishing rights in ponds and stretches of water as well as farming rights on the receding lakebed.

The achievement that this designation represents comes as the result of a decision made by the summit of heads of states and governments of the LCBC in July 2000, and both Chad and Niger have already designated their portions of Lake Chad as well - the only remaining part of the lake to be designated for the Ramsar List is in Cameroon, where a project supported by WWF is currently underway to achieve that. (The Central African Republic is part of the Lake Chad basin and the fifth member of the LCBC.) The designation is seen as a new contribution to the ChadWet regional initiative under the framework of the Ramsar Convention.

Nigeria now has two Ramsar sites covering 665,454 hectares, and the Convention's 158 Parties have designated 1,722 sites covering 160,158,832 hectares.