|National Policy for the Conservation and Management of Wetland Resources (Ministry of Natural Resources - Uganda, 1995, 23 p.)|
Wetlands cover about 10% of Uganda's total land surface area and provide a wide variety of bio-physical and socio-economic functions. However, these benefits are in jeopardy due to poor management practices. The importance of wetlands to national development and the threats to their continued existance were recognised in 1986, when the government banned further large scale drainage and instituted the National Wetlands Conservation and Management Programme within the Department of Environment Protection to analyse existing activities and assess the full range of functions and values provided by wetlands In addition, the programme concurrently carried out a sensitisation and awareness campaign and consultations to enlighten the public on the values and functions of wetlands and the need for their conservation and sustainable use.
Government has adopted the National Policy for the Conservation and Management of Wetland Resources to promote their conservation in order to sustain their values for the present and future well being of the people
In support of this aim, the National Wetlands Policy sets five goals:
· to establish the principles by which wetland resources can be optimally used now and in the future,
· to end practices which reduce wetland productivity,
· to maintain the biological diversity of natural or semi-natural wetlands,
· to maintain wetland functions and values;
· to integrate wetland concerns into the planning and decision making of other sectors.
Three principles apply in pursuit of these goals
(a) Wetland resources form an integral part of the environment and their management must be pursued in the context of an interaction between conservation and the national development strategies and activities
(b) Wetland conservation can only be achieved through a coordinated and cooperative approach involving all the concerned people and organisations in the country including the local communities
(c) It is of vital importance for wetland conservation and management that the present attitudes and perceptions of Ugandans regarding wetlands be changed
Thirty six specific policy statements are made on how the goals will be achieved, and a preliminary set of guidelines for wetland resource users is annexed
In particular, the policy aims at:
· ensuring, no drainage occurs unless more important environment management requirements supersede;
· ensuring that only non-destructive uses are carried out in and around wetlands;
· ensuring that wetland developments are subject to environmental impact assessment and audit;
· maintaining an optimum diversity of uses and users and consideration for other stakeholders when using a wetland
The need for enacting a national law to regulate the management of wetlands resources is highlighted.
Finally, the role of the district authorities in controlling activities within wetlands is defined and procedures to be followed in dealing with applications from prospective wetland resource developers are outlined.