World Wetlands Day 2006 in Botswana

23/02/2006

Daily News Online (Government of Botswana)
http://www.gov.bw/cgi-bin/news.cgi?d=20060208&i=Preserve_use_environmental_resources

Preserve, use environmental resources
08 February, 2006

MAUN - Batswana have been urged to preserve and use environmental resources in a sustainable manner.

The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, has said the demand to extract resources from the environment often resulted in some wetlands being mismanaged leading to destruction.

Officiating at this year's World Wetlands Day commemoration in Maun over the weekend, Mokaila said the destruction of the environment might lead to poverty, depletion of some species, relocation of communities in search of better survival opportunities and a change in the functioning of the natural ecosystems.

Mokaila urged Batswana to be fully involved in conservation. To address some of the environmental challenges, Mokaila hinted that his ministry has initiated programmes aimed at addressing observed ecological changes and management issues of wetlands.

These include consulting relevant stakeholders with a view to approving the draft Botswana Wetlands Policy and Strategy and also coordinating the development of an integrated Management Plan for the Okavango Delta.

He said a project proposal to develop a management plan for the Makgadikgadi Wetlands system has been finalised and its implementation should start during National Development Plan 10 once funding was secured.

Mokaila urged Batswana to take advantage of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and ensure that "we meet the requirements associated with these".

He urged institutions with functional responsibilities to implement national policies and programmes to recognise the importance of working with each other in a harmonious way and to avoid conflicts and duplications.

"In designing our respecting sectoral development activities, issues pertaining to gender, poverty reduction and HIV/AIDS should be part and parcel of wetlands management programmes," Mokaila said.

On other issues, Mokaila said wetlands were amongst they key life support systems on earth as they were the most productive environment ecologically and economically.

He said they helped regulate regional ecosystems and played important roles in climate stability.

The day marked the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in Ramsar, Iran, on February 2, 1971. Botswana ratified the convention in April 1997 and listed the Okavango Delta as a Ramsar site.

The delta currently stands as the world's largest Ramsar site. This year's theme is: "In the Face of Poverty: Wetlands are a Lifeline."

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The Convention today

Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,181 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,545,658

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