Nine new Ramsar sites in Uganda
Uganda has added nine wetlands to the List of Wetlands of International Importance designated under the Ramsar Convention, bringing the national total to 11 sites covering a total of 354,803 ha.
The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
“This is a wonderful step for conservation in east Africa,” said Achilles Byaruhanga, Executive Director of NatureUganda, the BirdLife Partner in Uganda. “We warmly congratulate the Ugandan government, and thank all those who have worked hard to help bring this about, especially the BirdLife Secretariat, WWF’s Global Freshwater Programme, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (the BirdLife Partner in the UK).”
“Although all these sites are recognised by BirdLife as Important Bird Areas (IBAs), they are also vital habitat for other threatened plants and animals,” says Byaruhanga. “For example, Lake Bisana and Lake Opeta are refuges for fish species which have disappeared from the main Ugandan lakes.
“Local communities depend on these wetlands for food, building materials and water filtration services, needed for their survival. The wetlands are also home to spectacular wildlife like Shoebill, Papyrus Gonolek, Sitatunga deer and Black-and-white Colobus monkeys, whose presence ensures a thriving tourism industry, which is vital to the local economy.”
The nine newly designated sites range from Uganda’s largest tract of swamp forest to extensive papyrus beds and an impressive waterfall system. They are: Lake Bisina, Lake Mburo-Nakivali, Lake Nakuwa, Lake Opeta, Lutembe Bay, Mabamba Bay, Murchison Falls-Albert Delta, Nabajjuzi and Sango Bay-Musambwa Island-Kagera.
Lake Opeta is home to Fox’s Weaver Ploceus spekeoides, Uganda’s only endemic bird species, whilst up to 1.5 million migrant White-winged Black Terns Chlidonias leucopterus visit Lutembe Bay, close to Kampala, the nation’s capital city.