What you need to know:
- Nema indicates that Uganda is losing wetlands three times more than forests.
The government has reaffirmed its position to crack down on encroachers and cancel 20,000 land titles issued to private developers in wetlands.
Mr David Stephen Mugabi, the acting director of environmental affairs in the Ministry of Water and Environment, said the government must act now to mitigate climate change effects.
“Of the 20,000 land titles issued in wetlands to the private developers across the country, 330 land titles in Mukono, Kampala, and Wakiso have been cancelled, while 300 more submitted in Rukiga and Bukedia districts are in the cancellation process,” Mr Mugabi said during the World Wetland’s Day celebrations in Gweri Sub-county, Soroti District, yesterday.
The day was marked under the theme “Wetland restoration; action for people and nature”.
Mr Mugabi, who represented his Permanent Secretary, said his line ministry and the Lands ministry would work together to implement a strategic government plan aimed at the restoration and preservation of the degraded resource.
“The official cancellation of land titles in wetlands across the country will provide a legal background for lawful actions,’’ he added.
Mr Mugabi, however, didn’t stipulate the exact date that the exercise would commence. Last year, the Cabinet promised a total ban on titles in wetlands and an investigation against government officials who issued the titles, but the promise has not materialised.
Mr Tom Julius Ekudo, the MP for Gweri County, said many people were duped to buy land in wetlands. He called upon the government to crack the whip on officials issuing fake titles in wetlands.
The Soroti District LC5 chairperson, Mr Simon Peter Edoru, cautioned the public against overgrazing in wetlands.
“It destroys the vegetation that acts as a cover and prevents water evaporation,’’ he said, adding that the government should introduce alternative improved species of pasture for animals to mitigate encroachment on wetlands.
The Resident District Commissioner of Soroti, Mr Salim Komakech, who graced the occasion on behalf of the Environment minister, called upon leaders and the general public to protect wetlands.
“Everybody should report encroachers so that they face the law,” he said.
Mr Komaketch warned Ugandans against carrying out in rice farming in wetlands and bush burning.
In a tweet yesterday, the executive director of National Environment Management Authority, Dr Barirega Akankwasah, said nearly 90 percent of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s.
“Wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation, and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies and more,” he said.