The Finima Nature Park and My Love for Green Architecture

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Nature will never offer what it cannot sustain. A better part of the knowledge of how to exist perfectly on earth rests on nature. And as humans, we are to be submissive to the unknown force of nature. For many decades before now, human activities which primarily are targeted at the economic survival of continents and nations, and especially citizens that make up the number, have been quite harmful and tried to change the gifts of nature. Climate change, carbon emissions, drying up of rivers and streams, bush burning and destruction of animal habitats have been the bane a few of the challenges we have had to battle with as we also wish to grow our industries, housing sector and transportation. So, researchers and universities have offered a few solutions to the future of our habitat, and talks are ongoing on topics such as smart cities, use of renewable materials, and the sustainability and affordability of things.

At the entrance of the park trail.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns

So, I had to visit the Finima Nature Park because of my interest in Green Architecture, which is eco-friendly architecture and mostly is about the use of renewable building materials for construction of homes for all classes of humans. My visit was an adventurous experience, as our crew was awesomely welcomed by the staff of the park that got us registered and sent us to the wild, where we found Clement Ugbana and Rose Lionel who were the rangers and keepers of nature in the forest. As first time explorers, the fear of the unknown was written on our faces while we questioned the park rangers on things to expect.

The long walk with Clement and Rose.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns
Rose Lionel, Park Ranger with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns
Clement Ugbana, Park Ranger with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns

The Finima Nature Park is well taken care of with the support of oil and gas company, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, and managed by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. The park is said to be managed in a clear demonstration of the application of best practices in the sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems. It is divided into two blocks, which are the Eastern Block and the Western Block, and is a 1,000 hectares land of freshwater swamp forest tucked somewhere in the island of Bonny, in Rivers State of Nigeria.

Park Rules:
For your safety, please stay on trails. Avoid stepping off track while on our nature trails. By stepping off the trail, you risk disturbing and trampling on nature and fauna.

The park is home to monkeys, peacocks and birds of various species, geese, snakes and pythons, herbal trees and vegetables, and many other plants and creatures. And the lake is habitation to fishes and crocodiles. The natural air and sanity in the wild is a wonderful experience, which gives me thoughts of how man can successfully merge nature and living.

The first generation goose at the park.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns

In today’s cities, especially in Nigeria and Africa, green areas are either destroyed for building or structures to stand, or are not ultimately considered during the design process. With the rise in carbon emissions in megacities, such as Lagos and Portharcourt, one wonders how healthy it is to live in them for a long time. Because there are no trees and gardens to take in a reasonable amount of carbon emitted by our activities, production of oxygen is also not so sufficient for the intimidating population of humans in megacities. I have always been an advocate of cities learning from cities, and my genuine fear is that Nigerian cities and city authorities may just be getting it all very wrong by not learning from global cities how to handle design and planning in an era of a surge in urbanization. So, our megacities are also so noisy, dirty and disorganized.

Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns

The Finima Nature Park experience brought to me the quietness and sanity of nature. We unintentionally whispered to ourselves while we walked on the trail, maybe because we were aware that there were wild animals that would not tolerate any form of noise which we have become used to as citizens of urban centers. I found a place of sanity in the park. My thoughts directly went to the fact that if nature and living can be unified, humans can always return to the sanity of their homes after working in the madness of work and industrial areas. Homes should be therapeutic, and help massage the mental conditions of residents. So, we need trees around us, and flowers and gardens. These would call in mild creatures such as butterflies and others. Homes are not supposed to be identical to the madness in the work area. Homes are healing centers, and need nature to complete it. And also, industrial centers should encourage tree planting and green areas.

Medicinal or herbal trees are found around the park.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns
Little boy fishing in the Park Lake.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns
Collected bones of a whale washed ashore the banks of the Atlantic Ocean in 2014.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns

The use of renewable materials, such as timber, bamboo and mud, would eventually become the solution to sustainable building construction. With zero emission witnessed from production to usage, these materials would work well with the environment and nature, as they are from nature also. Research and findings have confirmed that the building and construction sector contributes to the greater volume of emissions experienced globally, due to the use of nonrenewable materials such as concrete and steel. I say it is time to go back to nature, to take proper care of our environment, to take care of ourselves.

Getting set for a boat ride, as NCF staff helps me with the life jacket.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns
I join Clement in the boat.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns
The boat ride with Clement. Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns

The visit was a worthwhile experience, as we found the bones of a gigantic whale washed ashore the Atlantic Ocean. Rose and Clement said the bones were washed ashore in 2014, which is not too long ago. On hearing this, we refused to visit the beach, maybe out of fear. But our adventure was climaxed as we took a fearless boat ride round the lake, which Clement paddled and said it was visited once in a while by crocodiles that are harmless to humans. We were properly briefed about the boat ride, while they made sure we wore life jackets, before we set sail. We need ponds or pools, or aquariums in our homes. Ponds and pools are places of retreat and recreation. We must look for ways to make these elements of living affordable and sustainable. City authorities can also build artificial lakes and pools in neighbourhood centers. This is not too much of a request for the well being of city citizens. Over a half of the global population already live in cities all over the world. And this will continue to grow.

Cheerful and dedicated staff of the park. This job provides for families of the employees.
Photo Credit: Omoregie Osakpolor for CityDezigns

Finima Nature Park brought these thoughts to me. It was and will always be a worthwhile experience. I recommend you try.

I'm an Architect, Facility Manager, Editor and Writer. Also a member of International Facility Management Association - Nigeria Chapter, I am Erika, Muna and Harida's dad, and Ada's husband.
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