MAHANGO, NAMIBIA, Feb 18 –– Environment and Tourism Minister Uahekua Herunga says he is concerned about wetlands in Namibia being destroyed by human activity.

Speaking during the launch of Namibia’’s fifth Ramsar site — the Bwabwata-Okavango wetland at the Mahango game park station in Kavango East Region (Province) on Friday — he said wetlands are valuable for all of humanity, although it appears as if their value is not being recognized.

““We need to communicate the value of wetlands, and the need for its conservation to the public. That is the responsibility of all of us, and not only that of Government,” Herunga said.

In the next two years, the Ministry of Environment is going to work on finalising a draft national policy on wetlands, which will provide the policy framework and guidance on the management of wetlands in Namibia.

Herunga also indicated that his ministry would establish a national committee on wetlands, as provided for under the Ramsar Convention, to spearhead Government’s national wetland programme. Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance, designated under the Ramsar Convention, officially the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands named after the Iranian city of Ramsar where it was signed in 1971.

The Bwabwata-Okavango wetland is situated at the Mahango park station, some 220 kilometres east of Rundu in Kavango East Region.

The designation of the Bwabwata-Okavango wetland as a Ramsar site of international importance means the site is globally important, and requires that the use of the wetland and other associated resources is done wisely to sustain the system and those who depend on it.

The designation will further require Namibia as a party to the Ramsar Convention to promote the conservation of the site and other wetlands in the country. The size of the wetland is 46 964 hectares.

Namibia became party to the Ramsar Convention in 1995. Since signing the convention, Namibia has listed four wetlands as being of international importance. These are the Orange River mouth, Walvis Bay lagoon, Sandwich Harbour and Etosha Pan.

Source: NAMPA