The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has called upon people illegally occupying wetlands to leave the resource voluntarily before the law catches up with them.
The call was made during the commemoration of the World Wetlands Day at Gweri Sub County Grounds, Soroti District Local Government on Thursday 2nd February 2023.
According to NEMA, there has been a decline of wetland coverage in the last period from 1994 to 2019 as per the latest National State of Environment Report.
In Uganda as per the Report 2018-2019, wetland coverage declined from 15.5% in 1994 to 13% in 2017.
Of the remaining available wetlands by 2019 only 8.9% were intact while 4.1% were degraded.
“Wetlands are vital ecosystems. Home to 40% of the world’s species, they protect us from flooding, provide food and clean water, and play a crucial role in combating climate change. But they are at risk,” a statement by NEMA read.
The Authority however noted that efforts to restore degraded wetlands have already started and signs of early recovery of wetland cover have been seen.
“The indefinite suspension of approvals for all projects in wetland ecosystems that we issued on September 2, 2021 still stands and the process of auditing previously approved projects is ongoing,” NEMA added.
World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually on 2nd February with an aim to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and the planet.
The day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on wetlands on 2nd February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
According to the UN Environment Programme, nearly 90% of the World’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests.
Wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, World economies, and more.