ENVIRONMENT

Environmentalists call for voluntary commitments on stopping biodiversity decline, restoration

Repeated sounds of axing and whizzing of power-saws in Bugoma Forest is what has resulted into degradation of the forest cover. Smoke can be seen rising lazily above the forest as residents burn branches of fallen trees (PHOTO /File)

KAMPALA — Wild Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is pushing for voluntary commitments by stakeholders — pushing for enforcement of the legal framework to halt biodiversity decline by 2030.

Conservationists say is done through multi-stakeholder dialogue and science-based assessment.

Protecting biodiversity is central to tackling climate change, with deforestation accounting for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, says WWF Uganda Country Director, indicating that the vast majority of deforestation – 80% – is caused by the production of agricultural commodities and most deforestation – up to 90% in some countries – is illegal.

The destruction and degradation of these vital habitats also increases the risk of extreme weather events, drives biodiversity loss, and exacerbates the spread of infectious diseases.

WWF says this approach is designed to work in tandem with the existing efforts of governments, communities to enforce national laws, benefiting law-abiding producers and companies. The proposed legislation makes clear that illegally produced commodities have no place in the market, as we build back greener from coronavirus.

“We call upon our government to join the coalition to great global diversity framework that is a tool for transformative change,” he says, noting that, we need leadership at the highest level of state or government in both development and implementation, through a whole of government approach”.

He adds: “All government ministries, not just the Ministry of Environment, need to unite behind an ambitious mission, goals and targets that remove the sectorial drivers of biodiversity loss and decrease our ecological footprint”.

Mr Francis Ogwal, the Head of Biodivesity at NEMA, confirms the unprecedented degradation of the environment in Uganda but says the choice of the national theme for International Biodiversity Day 2021 is meant to mobilize all Ugandans to take and sustain concrete action to restore the environment especially focusing on forests, wetlands and species of wild plants and wild animals.

Strides made

According to a study by WWF Uganda under the BIODEV 2030 project,
Uganda is one of Africa’s richest countries in biodiversity despite its relatively small size.

It has diverse ecosystems consisting of forests, wetlands, rangelands, lakes and rivers. The country has 53% of the world’s mountain gorillas, 11% of the global recorded species of birds, 7.8 % of global mammalian species, 19% of Africa’s amphibians and 14% of African reptilians.

There are however a number of threats leading to loss of biodiversity including conversion of natural habitats to agricultural land and infrastructural development.

Status of biodiversity according to the latest National State of Environment Report 2018-2019 Forests

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