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Let's save nature for today and tomorrow

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th December 2000 03:00 AM

Uganda presently encourages use of indigenous knowledge in utilisation and conservation of biodiversity resources

Uganda presently encourages use of indigenous knowledge in utilisation and conservation of biodiversity resources By Dan nSalasatta The World Biodiversity day was set aside for raising awareness globally on the need to use our biological resources sustainably for the benefit of present and future generations. The convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted as a global convention in May 1992 in Nairobi, Kenya. Later in June at the United Nations Conference on Environment and development in Rio de Janeiro, over 150 states signed it. Uganda signed the convention on June 12. Biodiversity in Uganda represents the county's stock of natural or biological assets. Uganda uses them for food, shelter, medicine, tourism, raw materials, cultural and spiritual practices. These biological assets are also the main engines of Uganda's economy contributing well over 50% of the country's Gross Domestic Products (GDP). For the rural population, they represent their very means of survival. In a report by the National focal point for the convention on Biological Diversity, Dr. Bob Ogwang says, the current efforts to implement the CBD in Uganda is in full gear. He says Uganda as a party to the CBD has a sovereign right to its biological resources. The CBD obliges her to co-operate with other countries on matters of mutual interest for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Uganda has undertaken several actions for biodiversity conservation. The National Environment Action Plan (NEAP) was developed to review existing institutional and legal frameworks, to render them more effective in the conservation of the country's biodiversity. NEAP is aimed at developing a national plan and programmes for sustainable use of natural resources. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) was established as a new institution in charge of coordination, monitoring and supervision of environmental management in Uganda. Streamlining of institutions in charge of biodiversity management has also been undertaken, and various sectoral policies and laws have been or are being reviewed to ensure more effective management of biodiversity resources. An example is the merger of Uganda National Parks and the Game Department to form Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), and the formulation of National Policy on Wildlife Management and the Wildlife Statute. Others include formulation of the National Wetlands Management Policy which takes care of biodiversity in wetlands; the development of a fisheries policy and review of the existing legislation; the development of the Water Action Plan in 1994 and subsequent development of National Water Resources Policy. Uganda has also embarked on the preparation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). The process started in the middle of 1998 and is being coordinated by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). The process is expected to be completed by the year 2001. The Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan will constitute the main framework for biodiversity management in the next five years. It addresses a wide range of areas such as forest biodiversity, wildlife, agriculture and wetlands. legal and institutional frameworks, aquatic biodiversity, plant genetic resources, domestic animal genetic resources, biosafety and indigenous knowledge are also covered. Uganda has realised a number of accomplishments in the CBD which emphasise the identification and monitoring of the status of biodiversity and trends including general inventories, ecosystem surveys, genetic research, studies on endangered species, assessments and forecasts. Uganda was one of the ten countries which was selected world-wide to carry out country studies on the costs, benefits, and unmet needs of biodiversity conservation, which formed part of the information needed during the CBD negotiations. Uganda has therefore completed a first stage systematic and comprehensive assessment of her biodiversity resources. Further assessment of the country's biodiversity resources have been carried out through inventories and other forms of data collection by different government institutions. For example, extensive forest and wetlands inventories have been carried out by the forest department and the National Wetlands Conservation and Management Programme. Biodiversity assessments have also been undertaken by other institutions including universities, research institutions and NGOs. Conservation of biodiversity in Uganda has focused mainly on protected areas. Currently about 13% of the country is under protected areas such as national parks, wildlife reserves, communal wildlife reserves and animal sanctuaries. These areas continue to be the focus of biodiversity conservation in the country, or what is known as in-situ conservation. Maintaining viable populations of species in their natural surroundings and recovery of of those threatened and rehabilitation and restoration of degraded ecosystems, is being done in a number of ways. For instance, after eviction of encroachers from forest reserves, planting of key tree species was undertaken. Some flora and fauna species considered threatened are now under protection, such as the crested crane and the tree species known as Muvule. CBD calls upon countries party to the Convention to adopt measures for ex-situ conservation such as botanical gardens and zoos. Uganda presently encourages use of indigenous knowledge in utilisation and conservation of biodiversity resources, for example integration of traditional medicines with modern medicine in the health sector.

Let's save nature for today and tomorrow

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