Bwabwata-Okavango Ramsar site launched

16 Feb 2014 18:40pm
MAHANGO, 16 FEB (NAMPA) - Namibia’s fifth Ramsar site was officially launched by Environment and Tourism Minister Uahekua Herunga at the Mahango park station on Friday.
The Bwabwata-Okavango wetland is situated 220 kilometres east of Rundu in the Kavango East Region.
Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance, designated under the Ramsar Convention.
The designation of the Bwabwata-Okavango wetland as a Ramsar site of international importance means the site is globally important and requires that the use of the wetland and other associated resources is done wisely to sustain the system and those that depend on it.
The designation will further require Namibia being a party to the Ramsar Convention, to promote the conservation of the site and other wetlands in the country. The size of the wetland is 46 964 hectares.
Herunga said during the launch that the lower section of the Okavango River in the Bwabwata National Park has high conservation and tourism value and it supports a number of species listed on the International Conservation Unions (IUCN) red list of threatened species.
The Environment and Tourism Minister said the site supports one of the highest diversities of species in Namibia and over 400 species of birds have been recorded at the site, representing the highest number in Namibia for bird diversity.
He said the Mahango section of the park is also one of the most visited areas in the Kavango East Region because of the variety of species present there.
“Because of these attributes, our ministry took the liberty to designate the site as Ramsar site of international importance. Through stakeholder consultations as part of the development of the site management plan, the name of the site, Bwabwata-Okavango Ramsar site was proposed and adopted,” he said.
Herunga indicated that the listing of the site will not in any way prevent local communities from using and benefiting from the wetland and its associated resources, but rather promotes the wise use of wetlands. He stressed that the listing of the site will significantly add to the park’s tourism value.
Namibia became party to the Ramsar Convention in 1995. The convention is one of the oldest international conventions which was signed in 1971 in the city of Ramsar in Iran.
Since signing the convention, Namibia has listed four wetlands as being of international importance. These wetlands are the Orange River mouth, Walvis Bay lagoon, Sandwich Harbour and Etosha Pan.