NEMA Restores Buhweju Wetlands to Protect R. Rwizi

NEMA Restores Buhweju Wetlands to Protect R. Rwizi
National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) inspectors have commenced the restoration of the Kanyabukanja - Katara wetland system in Buhweju district, a major catchment source of River Rwizi.
Over 300 Hectares of the wetland system was recently encroached by over 100 families who among others dug up channels to drain the wetland and had established cattle farms, planted eucalyptus trees and occupiedthe rest with food crop gardens.
The Inspectors backed by the Environmental Protection Force (EPF) carried out evictions with the restoration process including the removal of alien crops from the wetland and planting of papyrus in degraded areas. Using a combination of rocks and steel, check dams were erected at sites where drainage channels had been dug to drain the wetland.
Hebert Nabaasa, the Senior District Support Officer at NEMA who led the restoration process, said that check dams were erected to help block the drainage channels and re-flood the wetlands, to hasten the ecosystem restoration process.
In October this year, NEMA issued environment restoration orders (EROs) to more than 100 encroachers on the Kanyabukanja - Katara wetlands following an inspection which indicated that earlier warnings and sensitization meetings aimed at promoting voluntary compliance had not been heeded.
The orders signed by the Executive Director, Dr. Tom Okurutnoted that degraders were illegally constructing structures, erecting drainage channels, cultivating and obstructing the community from accessing the wetland system. The degraders were then ordered to among others to stop all illegal activities, demolish and remove illegal structures and alien species, vacate and restore the degraded areas. The Orders further clarify that failure to heed to the notice NEMA would use all necessary action to restore the wetlands. The notice was to be effected in a period of three weeks.