Uganda Loses Wetland To Rose Farming

Uganda Loses Wetland To Rose Farming

Ugandan environmental activists say their country’s environmental protection agency sold out by siding with business in allowing a rose farm to be built on fragile wetlands, according to a Washington Post report.

Uganda’s flower industry makes millions of dollars in exports to Europe each year, the report said.

The area on Lake Victoria’s Lutembe Bay where trucks have dumped dirt for a rose farm was once home to heron and papyrus, deemed internationally important under an international convention on wetlands.

It also supports threatened species of birds, fish and butterflies. The wetland acts as a natural filter for silt, sediments and excess nutrients in surface run-off, industrial waste water and sewage from Kampala, according to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Ugandan Sudhir Ruparelia, owns the business clearing the wetland. He’s the richest man in East Africa and one of Africa’s wealthiest people, according to Forbes. He is believed to be close to Uganda’s ruling elite, the report said.

“I think this is corruption of the highest order,” said Frank Muramuzi, an activist with the local watchdog group, National Association of Professional Environmentalists. “But it is not too late. We want to take them to court.”

Neighboring Kenya’s wetlands are also facing serious degradation, according to a U.N. statement. Kenya’s Lake Naivasha has seen declining water levels due to competition from expanding flower farms.

To stem the damage, Kenya produced a “Wetlands Atlas” of the country’s wetlands as part of a government plan to preserve the integrity of the country’s water resources.