Friday February 14 2014

It is crucial to conserve our environment

By Carlos Lwanga

The laws of nature and our planet follow a cyclical principle: cause and effect. Every action has a reaction, a consequence, an unavoidable outcome which engineers other actions in an unbreakable circle. The universe also operates under the concept of duality and the connection of all things: two sides that oppose each other but which, in the end, need and complement each other.

I once met a British gentleman who has travelled across the world as a conservationist and we had an interesting discussion about climate change. The major theme of his argument was the unavoidable devastation to communities and Third World countries as a result of environmental degradation. A simple example: Pakistan depends on the waters of the Indus river to irrigate land for farms, power hydro-electric dams and supply the nation with usable water. The forests in Pakistan encourage rainfall, which feeds the river and keeps it at a level that benefits both social and commercial demands.

Aggressive deforestation has, however, reduced the number of trees and this has affected the level of rainfall, leading to a reduction in the level of the Indus. In fact, conservationist organisations predict that the river will dry up in 25 years, destroying a major ecological system in the process and adversely affecting Pakistan’s economy which largely depends on the river.

Climate change is a major issue around the world, especially for Third World countries like Uganda whose economies mainly depend on agriculture and, therefore, are at the mercy of nature. That is why one of the major long-term challenges we must tackle is climate change and environmental degradation.
We hear stories of wetlands and forests destroyed to build shopping malls; valuable resources given to foreign investors to exploit. Such moves are beneficial in the short-term for individual beneficiaries but the destruction of the environment will bring devastating long-term effects such as reduced rainfall, leading to drought, inadequate agricultural yields thus weakened the economy.

Our leaders and the general public should know that Uganda’s greatest long-term investment will be the conservation, promotion and protection of our resources and environment. Forests and wetlands must be protected and more financing, support and planning must be given to environmental organisations.