Wednesday April 30 2014

Govt to release an atlas for wetlands


The government is mapping all wetlands around the country as it works to end conflict situations where environmentalists differ on what qualifies to be protected as such.

Mr Daudi Migereko, the minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, yesterday told Parliament’s Committee on Physical Infrastructure that there are cases where environmentalists have disagreed with the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) over which areas should be gazzetted as wetlands.
“We are producing an atlas covering all wetlands because (encroachment) is a matter that the government wants to handle from a technical point of view. There are times when there are debates between experts with some saying, ‘this is a wetland,’ while others say it is not,” Mr Migereko said.
The minister was responding to inquiries about what the government is doing to stop wetland encroachment.

However, the minister could not say when the atlas will be ready.
MPs warned that senior government officials are escalating the abuse. Kumi MP Patrick Amuriat referred to a case where Economic Monitoring minister Henry Banyezaki wanted to put up a beach on a wetland.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Dr Tom Okurut, the executive director of Nema, the government agency mandated to protect wetlands, said the planned atlas will be useful.

Wetland encroachment remains one of the major causes of environmental degradation in the country with the latest case happening in Kinawataka, a city suburb, where some investors have been piling murram in a swamp.