Home | News    Wednesday 1 November 2006

UNEP applauds southern Sudan’s wetlands protection


Oct 31, 2006 (NAIROBI) — The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) chief on Tuesday praised southern Sudan’s conservation efforts, which aim at preserving one of Africa’s mostimportant wetlands.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said Sudd region in southern Sudan has been included in the Ramsar Convention List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty adopted on Feb. 2, 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.

The government of Sudan received the Ramsar certificate at an award and environmental workshop event co-sponsored by the UNEP and held at the regional capital Juba.

"Certification of the Sudd Wetlands as a RAMSAR site is an important symbolic achievement that now hopefully will be followedthrough with practical measures to assist in the conservation of this unique habitat," said Steiner in a statement issued in Nairobi.

With a total area in excess of 30,000 square kilometers, the Sudd is arguably the largest wetland in Africa and provides immense economic and environmental benefits to the entire region.

"The swamps, flood plains and rain-fed grasslands of the Sudd support a rich animal diversity including hundreds of thousands ofmigratory birds," UNEP said.

The area is also inhabited by the Nuer, Dinker and Shilluk people who ultimately depend upon the wetlands and the seasonal flooding of the adjacent rich pastureland for their survival.

The workshop, which was opened by Salva Kirr Mayardit, Sudan’s first vice president and president of southern Sudan, will continue until Thursday.

"The event is particularly significant in that it is brings technical experts and officials from the different sides of the major north-south conflict together to start to jointly address the range of environmental issues facing the country," the statement said.

The arrival of peace to southern Sudan is now bringing in much needed development to a region which has suffered 21 years of continuous warfare.

New roads are being built and over a million displaced people are gradually returning to their homelands in Sudan.

Southern Sudan now has some of the best-preserved wetland and plains habitat in all of Africa and the largest timber reserves ineast Africa.

"The government of southern Sudan now has a unique opportunity to ensure that the development of these resources is both sociallyequitable and environmentally sustainable," it said.


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