Conservationists working with government of Uganda have signed a much sought-after biodiversity conservation commitments.
The signing, held in Kampala this month was presided over by Minister of State for Energy, Hon. Okasai Opolot who commended the efforts of World Wide Fund for Nature Uganda (WWF) championing the conservation drive.
Okasai assured sector players of Government support in the fight against biodiversity loss.
Preventing biodiversity loss is a government priority, he committed.
He also asked the rest of the stakeholders involved to implement the commitments made.
“We have degraded our environment to the level of to whom it may concern which is very dangerous. We need to look internally at ourselves. We have cut down our forests and destroyed water bodies. We need to find ways of ensuring conservation of biodiversity,” he said.
WWF Country Director Mr. Simon Peter Weredwong, called upon the Government of Uganda to prioritise biodiversity in order to protect the environment.
“The commitments being made by different stakeholders are helping us strengthen action towards biodiversity conservation. It is also going to help strengthen local linkages within existing and on-going efforts and it is helping us build momentum for more engagements for biodiversity sustainability. The world is now seeing us from a different perspective,” Mr. Weredwong said.
He also said that if Uganda as a country chose to do nothing about conservation of biodiversity, “then we may be choosing to give way to our biodiversity to go to extinction and yet life without biodiversity is impossible, biodiversity is everything to us in terms of life. Therefore we need to commit to conserving it for our own benefit and for future generations.”
Looking at the commitments is strengthening local level actions and responsibility for conservation.
Agriculture and energy sector development have contributed the most to destruction of biodiversity according to Dr. Robert Nabanyumya, consultant sustainable land management.
Therefore some commitments include: restoration of degraded habitats and planning for indigenous trees particularly agroforestry and the promotion sustainable of land management practices among smallholder farmers.
He added that in the energy sector, we should look at establishing wood energy plantations, promote and incentivise use of alternative energy sources, promoting and installing efficient cook stoves and equipment such as pressure cookers
How does biodiversity conservation benefit humans?
According to a 2019 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, biodiversity serves humans through ecosystem benefits like crop pollination, water purification, flood protection, and carbon sequestration.
In addition, the existence of our planet’s countless varied species in their natural habitats helps humans survive and thrive.
However, the planet is facing a severe biodiversity loss crisis unseen in human history.
This crisis, in turn, threatens food security, livelihoods, economic equality, and human health.
A 2019 UN report found that roughly one million plant and animal species are currently threatened with extinction. The report also states that about 75 percent of the land-based environment and 66 percent of the marine environment has been “significantly altered” by humans; 23 percent of the global land surface has reduced productivity from land degradation. In addition, between 100 and 300 million people are at a higher risk of hurricanes and floods due to coastal habitat loss.