UGANDA is to gazette 20 unique swamps as Ramsar sites in a bid to protect rare species of plants and birds from extinction.
Ramsar is a city in Iran, where the wetlands convention was adopted about three decades ago. Prior to the ratification of the Ramsar Convention, it is an obligation of the parties involved to set aside at least one wetland as a Ramsar site (wetland of global importance).
Paul Mafabi, the assistant commissioner, wetlands, recently said this was being done ahead of the global meeting for contracting parties to be held in Kampala in November.
The meeting, held once in three years, will provide Uganda with a chance to showcase its achievement in the sustainable use of wetlands because it is widely considered a model, Mafabi said.
Uganda has only two Ramsar sites, one in the northern part of Lake George gazetted about two decades ago and the other on Lake Nabugabo that was declared a wetland of global importance last year.
Achilles Byaruhanga, who heads Nature Uganda, said ecological studies, including bird counts have been done on 20 of the sites and that this data has been compiled and submitted to the Ministry of Environment.
He added that 20 sites have been lumped into seven broad ecological regions including Lake Victoria wetlands that encompassed Lutembe, Murchison bay, Sango bay and Musambwa islands.
Others are Karamoja wetlands, which comprises of lake Opeta, Lake Bisina, Lake Kyoga main and Lake Nakuwa. Lakes Mburo to Kinnebarora and the fringing wetlands are also on the list.
The East African Rift valley lakes including crater lakes in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Munyanyange, Lake Katwe and crater lakes in Kyambura Wildlife reserve.
Byaruhanga said other unique wetlands that represent high altitude wetlands in the albertine rift valley, including Nyamiriro swamp, Muchoya swamps, Lake Bunyonyi, have been considered.
Nabajjuzi wetland including lake Wamala and the fringing wetlands within Central Uganda should be protected because they contain endangered species of birds and animals such as the sitatunga (enjobe).
However, the concept of Ramsar sites does not exclude use of nature by communities because it relies on promotion of sustainable use of the ecological system that curtails depletion.
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