PAKWACH. District leaders and the Environment department are set to tighten grips on rampant misuse of wetlands that are at risk of extinction.

The Pakwach district chairman Mr Steen Omito said the decision is in line with the mandatory duty of the district leaders in liaison with the environmental regulatory body to educate the community on ownership, accessibility, and right to use of wetlands that must be constantly checked to avoid depletion.

He said swamps that harbor waterbucks, Crested cranes and other aquatic animals will be designated and activities there will be regulated to boost tourism in the district.

He appealed to sub-county leaders along the Albert Nile in areas of Panyimur and Pakwach sub-county to enforce and take punitive measures against culprits de-grading fish breeding areas.

"We are leaving no stone unturned, we want to protect the fishing area so that the fish grow healthy without stress, we do not want the security forces to solely implement this", he said.

Ms Jennifer Oweka, the Pakwach district Environment officer said the community can acquire permits from her office to carry out activities like sewage filtration, fish farming, recreational activities, and drainage.

She said cases of illegal human encroachment, charcoal burning and bad farming practices like reckless use of pesticides is still a challenge in the protection of wetlands in Pakwach.

Oweka added that various strategies like demarcation of buffer zones and sensitization of the masses against wastage of wetlands have been hampered by few field staff and transport to reach far locations.

She narrated that cultural sites in wetlands like Wanglei near the Pakwach Bridge is protected by the government because of it's relevance to culture and history.
"Cultural leaders there's no course for alarm, the law protects such sites as long as the activities performed by the leaders does not endanger its ecology ", she said.

Majority of the community along the Nile predominantly dependant on the wetlands for herbs, papyrus, fishing and water for domestic use but under new guidelines, the locals are now required to massively plant trees to tackle adverse effects of climate changes and avoid practices that would destabilize the echo system.