The Environmental Management Agency has urged those settled on wetlands and along stream banks to move away from those areas, and to stop wetland and stream bank cultivation for the good of the environment and that of public health.
EMA Environmental Education and Publicity Manager Amkela Sidange, said the public should not buy stands in areas they suspect to be wetlands or when they are not sure of the extent of the area’s ecologically sensitivity as doing so will result in delays in development or even loss of investment when development is rejected on site suitability or even prosecution for developments in ecologically sensitive areas without authority from the agency.
“It’s time for the public to uphold ‘the prevention is better than cure’ agenda in environmental management by following all necessary guidance given by the agency and other relevant authorities, and in the process protect the environment and the health of the public.
“Wetlands remain a source of water as they act as a recharge system for water bodies hence their degradation results in water scarcity, as the water table drastically drops and also recharge into open water sources is affected.
“Also wetlands are habitats for both flora and fauna hence support biodiversity, thus their degradation results in biodiversity loss. Wetlands also act as flood retention chambers as they attenuate water during rainfall, thus their degradation results in flooding, especially flash flooding,” she said.
Wetlands act as water purifiers hence their degradation results in poor water quality, resulting in the need for use of many chemicals in water purification thereby increasing the cost of water to consumers.
Also wetlands remain an integral part of the hydrological system, acting as a major catalyst in rain formation and a pacifier in extreme weather conditions, including averting climate change trajectory.
Any activity on a wetland requires a licence from EMA, and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be done first.
According to Sidange, through the EIA procedure, the agency has been able in the past year alone, to reject over 20 wetland projects on site suitability, and in the process protect wetlands.
Meanwhile, 2 February is World Wetlands Day, and this year it is running under the theme ‘Wetlands and water’.
Celebrated annually on 2 February, World Wetlands Day aims to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and the planet. The day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.