Uganda conservation news – NEMA pounces on flower farm suspected of wetland encroachment

Lutembe Bay, once a great wetland and much sought after resting place for migratory birds, has in recent years seen less and less feathered visitors to the dismay of birders and the conservation fraternity, who considered the location so near the capital city and international airport a big bonus to attract tourists. During the heydays of Lutembe, before a nearby flower farm, now focus of a NEMA investigation, came into existence, an estimated 1.5 million white winged terns came for rest and recreation while on their migratory cycle in and out of Africa, but numbers have sharply reduced in past years as Lutembe kept shrinking, irrespective of being a Ramsar recognized site and one of Ugandas key IBAs (important bird areas). In fact, Lutembe was always thought to be one of the most important birding areas around the entire Lake Victoria.
Earlier in the week did a group of NEMA official make an unannounced visit to the flower farm and Lutembe Bay at large, acting on a series of complaints by bird tour operators, NGOs and concerned citizens, to establish if indeed the farm had pushed further into the wetland as have been alleged.
Presented with documents in regard of a range of operational parameters and process approvals, NEMA official promptly seem to have concluded that those were forgeries and promised further investigations into the matter, very likely now turning it into a police investigation over the authenticity of the documentations shown. This development comes hot on the heels of allegation of pollution by a major sugar company, which stands accused of illegal discharge of affluent from the sugar production into the open environment and the subsequent poisoning of water sources. Should NEMA suddenly have grown teeth one wonders? Watch this space to follow this emerging story.