NAIROBI, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Friday blamed human activities and climate change for the destruction of the country's wetlands.
Judi Wakhungu, the outgoing Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, revealed that human activities and climate change continue to make fishing grounds, paddy farms, transport, tourism and water fragile.
"We are prioritizing wetlands along conservation to ensure that the ecosystem continue to provide their services in maintaining communities," Wakhungu said during the celebrations marking the World Wetland Day.
She noted that wetlands remain a major source of rural productivity by providing fisheries, wet ground for farming and pasture that is vital during dry seasons.
She, however, challenged environment management stakeholders to maintain in regenerating natural ecosystems to build ecological resilience for communities in the path of natural disasters and climate change.
Wetlands are one of the world's most important environmental assets, containing a disproportionately high number of plants and animal species compared to other ecosystems in the world.
They, however, have been very integral to human survival and development through their support to livelihood of various communities.
Despite their role, wetlands continue to face unprecedented threats that have led to their deterioration and disappearance over the years.
The East African nation launched a wetland policy last year to help give direction on the management and conservation of wetlands and recognizes the vital role wetlands play toward attaining the country's Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).
The policy also aims at addressing wetland loss through the engagement of stakeholders in restoring and rehabilitating the already lost wetland ecosystem.
"The government is set to put more efforts toward encroachment of wetlands for commercial use, agriculture and overgrazing, the Principal Secretary for Environment Charles Sunkuli said.
Sunkuli noted that wetlands are known for cushioning communities against the impacts of climate change such as floods and drought if well managed.
He said most of Kenya's wetlands are rich in offering ecological, social and economic benefits in biodiversity especially for housing birds that forms an important tourist attraction in the country.
"We cannot sit pretty when wetlands continue to be destroyed by unscrupulous people," said Sunkuli.
He said the government plans to put more emphasis on urban wetlands that play a role in making them conducive as they help reduce floods, replenish drinking water, filter waste and provide urban green space.