Deforestation and Destruction of Wetlands Heats Up Kabale
Kabale — In the early 1990s Kabale was nicknamed "The Switzerland of Africa" by white settlers because of its cool weather. But with environment degradation and accompanying high temperatures, the name rings hollow.
The district meteorology officer, Mr Bernard Kanyesigye, says about 25 years ago, the highest average temperature recorded in Kabale was 18 degrees Celsius and 10 degrees Celsius as lowest.
Today, the average highest temperature has risen to 24 degrees Celsius-almost double the global average-while the average lowest has risen to 12 degrees Celsius.
According to National Climatic Data Centre, State of the Climate: Global Analysis for November 2011, an online publication, the combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for December was at 13.35 degrees Celsius.
"The main cause of rising temperatures is attributed to the high rate of deforestation and increased destruction of wetlands due to increased population pressure. The only way forward is to restore the degraded environment," Mr Kanyesigye says. Kabale's altitude ranges between 1,219 metres and 2,347 metres above sea level. It has projected population of 580,000 people.
During the 2002 population census the district recorded 458,300 people and an annual growth rate of three per cent. The district natural resource management officer, Mr Paul Sabiiti, says climate change in the area is not peculiar because the current global climatic change, which is partly a result of increased carbon emissions due to increased industrialisation, has left many places warmer than before.
"We are encouraging the local population to plant trees on the bare hills and restore the destroyed wetlands," Mr Sabiiti says. He, however, adds that: "It is not an easy task. People are encroaching on wetlands for farming to earn a living. We tried to enforce their restoration but politicians are sabotaging us. However, the struggle must continue," Mr Sabiiti says.
Mr Sabiiti says the only three intact wetlands are Nyombe, Kanyabaha, Muguli in Rubaya Sub-county and others around Lake Bunyonyi because these places are water logged all the time.
The district Naads coordinator, Mr James Kasimbazi, says they are encouraging farmers to plant tea on the bare hills because the crop and other temperate fruit trees to restore the degraded environment.