What is Environmental Integrity?

In an attempt to understand the meaning of the phrase “environmental integrity”, this paper, shall attempt to separate the phrase to enable it arrive at a definition.

While the phrase “Environmental” concerns with the environment; connected with the natural conditions in which people, animals and plant live” . The term integrity connotes uprightness, honesty, purity entireness, wholeness; the unimpaired state of anything .  Given the above meanings to the phrase, it follows that environmental integrity is the retainment of the pure state, the unimpaired state of the natural conditions in which people, animals and plant live in all human endeavours.

Environmental integrity has also been defined as the sustenance of important biophysical processes which support plant and animal life and which must be allowed to continue without significant change. The objective is to assure the continued health of essential life support systems of nature, including air, water, and soil by protecting the resistance, diversity and purity of natural communities (ecosystems) within the environment.

Stricto senso, environmental integrity paints a picture of an environment void of all forms of pollution from all polluting sources, which are basically the making of human activities in its quest for survival ranging from pollution from industries, homes, etc.

This means that human survival and development cannot exist without pollution and because this state is unattainable, i.e. (humans cannot just still and await death) the concept of environmental integrity will now mean an effort by humans to maintain a sustainability of environmental resources of the environment in all aspects of its activities through its conducts, applicability of its working tools and through regulations applied in such a way as to improve all the components of the environment and not to degrade same.


Flowing from the above definition of what environmental integrity connotes, the question that arises is what is the state of environment in Nigeria?  How Environmental integrity maintained in Nigeria?  In the quest for economic development, Nigeria veered in industrialization at independence.

The first decade (1960 – 1970) of Nigeria’s independence witnessed government plan to promote growth of industries in order to contribute directly to economic growth and national development. In the 1970’s two of the most applauded goals of the national development plans were:

Increase in self reliance in the supply of industrial products and factor inputs. Develop and support small and medium scale industries and their contribution to manufacturing .

In 1990s, the government targeted, among others:

Domestication of industrial processes and enhancement of economic efficiency; and Increase in capacity utilization in the industrial sector, employment generation and poverty alleviation.

In the new millennium, the thrust is privatization and commercialization, employment generation and poverty eradication.

Overall, government pursues national economic development through growth of industries through continuous research in science and technology, development of new product, high quality standard in industrial goods and services, ability to produce building capacity to successfully face challenges of competition and increase in taste.

As successive Nigerian governments also established and invested in industries, so industrial economic development also assaulted and degraded the Nigerian environment.

The government focused on maximum exploitation of natural resources for rapid economic development with scant regard for resource conservation and sustainability.  Environmental and social consequences of envisaged projects were ignored.  Industrial activities, usually carried out in Nigeria with weak legal framework and regulation infrastructure, led to pollution of water resources, destruction of fauna and flora, health hazards and deterioration of health quality, air and noise pollution, as well as destruction of traditional economic infrastructures within communities tasking some of these high powered investments.

For example, the Kaduna Industrial Complex that houses textile mills today constitutes environmental nuisance and a source of water pollution.   Other threats related to human activities that have further amplified the country’s vulnerability to environmental degradation include:

Population growth and Urbanization:  Population growth and urbanization has increased drastically.  The population living in urban centres is projected to rise to 60% by 2015.  The drivers of urbanization in Nigeria include concentration of development activities in urban centres.  One of the major negative impacts of high urbanization is massive waste generation and attendant disposal problems resulting in a threat to the quality of air we breath, water, land.   Nigerian cities and towns are mostly horrible examples of unplanned population growth, poor town planning methods, squalor and environmental degradation which cry for immediate action.  Population growth has also put a lot of pressure on our forest as the rising farming population seeks for more land for survival. Poor Farming Practice:  The lack of farming education has encouraged poor farming practice in Nigeria resulting to a massive loss of lands. Exploitation of Fire wood for Survival by rural dwellers to cook their meals. Uncontrolled Logging:  The global demand for tropical hardwoods is increasing daily.  High intensity of logging and illegal exploitation of tree species has continued to pose serious threats to the country’s forest resource and environment.  The use of modern machinery such as tractors, and trucks has made logging even faster and easier, resulting or increasing rate of illegal logging.  These days, illegal loggers are often armed to confront forest guards that dare to stop them. Fire/Waste Incineration:  Bush fires have become a major environmental hazard in most parts of Nigeria.

Indiscriminate fire is caused by farmers, smokers and hunters who look for game.  Fire is also caused during disposal of waste, as burning of waste appears to be the only means of waste disposal in Nigeria.

The combined effect of the above listed features have resulted in a visible and alarming rate of degradation in our environment, causing great damage to our land and bringing sorrow and poverty to many of our people.  The consequences of these polluting activities include but not limited to:

Deforestation:  The continuous removal or destruction of significant areas of forest has resulted in a highly degraded environment with attendant reduction in biodiversity.  UNEP in 2006 estimated that annual deforestation in Nigeria covers 663,000 hectares of land. Desertification:  Between 50% and 75% of Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Yobe states are under threats of desertification. In these areas, population pressure, resulting in over grazing, over exploitation of fire wood of marginal lands and aggravated drought due to global warming has accelerated the rate of desertification. Soil Erosion:  The degradation caused by erosion in Nigeria is occurring at an increasing and alarming rate, aggravated by such factors as increased agricultural activities, civil construction works, deforestation, bush burning, over grazing, drainage blockage, poor water management, urbanization and increased population pressure. Solid Wastes:  Solid waste management has emerged as a major environmental threat for cities in developing countries world wide.  Solid waste management has gained notoriety in Nigeria today because of its visibility and the embarrassment it has constituted to the image of the nation.  It is therefore a common site to find mountains of waste scattered all over our cities with no apparent effort displayed at getting rid of them, even with the attendant risk of air and ground water pollution.

Municipal and Industrial Pollution:  Municipal and industrial pollution is a major environmental problem in Nigeria as most cities lack proper solid waste management schemes and the monitoring and control of industrial waste is inefficient.  Even with the relatively low level of industrialization, industrial waste pollution is a major problem in Nigeria.  In many cases, effluents from industrial processes are simply allowed to flow into public drains and rivers where they can percolate into surface or groundwater. The petroleum industry contributes a substantial quota to Nigeria’s environmental pollution. 




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