A lecturer in the University of Calabar, Prof. Edak Uyoh, has identified habitat degradation as a major anthropogenic cause of species extinctions.
Prof. Uyoh made this know in Calabar while delivering the 113th inaugural lecture of the University of Calabar.
The inaugural lecture was on the topic “Rediscovering our Hidden Treasures: The Plant Breeders Quandary”.
Uyoh, a Professor of Genetics and Plant Breeding, said that habitat degradation is caused by agricultural activities such as bush clearing and burning as well as mechanization of agricultural practices.
According to her, other causes are logging or harvesting of trees for timber used in furniture and construction, exploration, mining and processing.
She also mentioned industrialization and urbanization which includes construction of houses, roads, super highways, hospitals and industries as some of the causes.
“Most of these activities involved massive land clearing which leads to loss of useful plants.
“Exploration, mining and processing result in ecological changes, destruction of natural ecosystem, pollution of water, air and land, erratic changes in soil and rock masses, lands degradation and global warming.
“These have subsequently led to loss of ploughable land, profit crops and trees,” she said.
The inaugural lecturer explained that the genetic diversity of crops in Africa and Nigeria in particular has for long been preserved naturally by the traditional cropping system.
She maintained that the drive for food self-sufficiency has accelerated the loss of genetic diversity because improvement in yield and quality is targeted at a few crop varieties, leaving the rest abandoned.
She noted that incidents of inter-tribal and inter-communal wars, wild fires as well as activities of herdsmen and terrorist in Nigeria have led to loss of large farmlands and other genetic resources.
Prof. Uyoh observed that farmlands and bushes with useful crops have been destroyed for various reasons.
While proffering a way forward, Prof. Uyoh said that the list of endangered plant was on the increase and needs to be curtailed to preserve the unique genetic traits of such plants for future use.
“One of the ways forward is the in situ conservation of plant resources which involves the preservation of ecosystems and natural habitats in their natural surroundings.
“Another way forward is the creation of National Parks, National Forests and Forests Reserves.
“Also, there is the need for the ex situ conservation which involves the preservation of plant genetic resources outside their natural habitats,” she said.
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