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Busia hailed for conservation initiatives 

Busia County Forest Coordinator James Were (in uniform) leading a team of conservationists and a section of local residents during a tour of Sio Siteko wetland. He urged the local community to plant bamboo trees as a buffer zone to protect the wetland from encroachment. Photo by Salome Alwanda-KNA




A section of Sio Siteko wetlands in Busia Sub County. The 35,000 acre land faces risk of encroachment by the local community as they seek pasture for their animals and farming-Photo by Salome Alwanda-KNA

A section of Sio Siteko wetlands in Busia Sub County. The 35,000 acre land faces risk of encroachment by the local community as they seek pasture for their animals and farming-Photo by Salome Alwanda-KNA

Busia County Government has been hailed for its initiative in conserving the wetlands.

Speaking to the press during a tour of Sio Siteko wetland in Busia, East African Regional Manager of Wildlife Trust Adalbert Aine hailed the County government for its commitment to conserve Sio Siteko wetlands.

“At Siteko, we have seen how communities are planting bamboo to put a buffer zone between the community and the wetlands,” he said adding that it was an indication that the community had understood the value of wetlands and have learnt that there was need to conserve it
Aine noted that the quest for economic liberation for food security continue to exert pressure on the environment, especially on the fragile wetlands.

“Therefore there is still a lot that we can do as governments, communities, civil societies, organisations and more importantly as individuals,” he said.

He added that there was need to double the efforts in working together so as to address the life threatening challenge, not only for human beings but other forms of diversity.

The official pointed out that there was need for partnership, adding that no single entity can work alone in solving the challenges because some of them are external to our communities or governments.

“Therefore we need to work with other organisations, other countries to address the problems,” he said citing climate change as the major contributing factor.

Busia County Forest Coordinator James Were said plans are underway to plant 100, 000 bamboo trees to protect Sio Siteko Wetland.

Were said the 35,000 acre wetland was being encroached by the local community, especially during the dry season.

“During dry seasons of December and January, you find community members getting into the wetland and setting fire in it to create land for cultivation,” he explained adding that the practice leads to destruction of bio diversity.

National Director of Kenya Crane and Wetland Conservation Rudolf Makhanu urged the residents of Western Kenya region to conserve Sio Siteko Wetlands.

Makhanu said that wetlands were the stronghold of endangered species and an International fly-way for different species of birds.
“There are seasons when birds from other countries migrate and they use this as a fly-over as they reach out to other conservation areas,” he explained.

He stated that the wetland was in great focus internationally because of the role it plays and thanked the local community for their efforts in conserving it.

“If you conserve wetlands, it is not only for your benefit but also for the future generations,” he told members of the community.

The official pointed out that the Kenyan constitution states that citizens should conserve ecological areas like wetlands.

“As international Crane Foundation and Wildlife Trust we are committed towards securing, protecting and ensuring that the habitats of birds like the grey crowned crane are conserved because Western Kenya is the stronghold of this endangered species,” he said.

By Salome Alwanda

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