Wetlands International Africa has this year chosen the Mangrove Natural Park of Cacheu (PNTC), in northern Guinea-Bissau, to celebrate the World Wetlands Day (WWD), one of the key dates in the calendar of the organization. It was an opportunity for Guinea-Bissau Office to advocate for good management and sustainable conservation of wetlands in a country where wetlands occupy a good part of the national territory, especially with the recent erection of Cacheu Park as the fourth Ramsar site in the country.
As a leading global organization for the conservation and restoration of wetlands, Wetlands International marked the February 2nd, 2016, date celebrating the World Wetlands Day (WWD). Wetlands International Africa, through its office in Guinea-Bissau, covered this landmark event of its annual agenda by organizing a meeting at Mangroves Natural Park of Cacheu (PNTC), in northern Guinea-Bissau. It was in collaboration with the Institute for Biodiversity Conservation of Protected Areas (IBAP) and the Secretary of State for Environment of Guinea-Bissau. (See video)
Mr. Joaozinho SA, Wetlands International National Coordinator in Guinea-Bissau, recalled the audience about the work that guides his organization for years as regards the conservation and restoration of wetlands. One of such is the management of prjects within the framework of the Initiative for Mangrove in West Africa (IMAO) and Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME). '' The importance of wetlands in the life of local communities is well established in ecological, socio-economic and cultural field, '' he said. '' This world wetlands day is the opportunity for us to ask questions about the future of our wetlands. It also allows us to reflect, together with public institutions, on how to conduct an awareness campaign through the media to reach out people who live in the park. This will help them adheres to the established rules meant to preserve the site because, they clearly dictate the conditions of their survival especially, with regards the environmental challenges that abound here, '' insisted the national coordinator of Wetlands International in the land of Amilcar Cabral.
A communication on the Conservation Project of Biodiversity in Mangroves Natural Park of Cacheu (PNTC) was also made. Objectives, expected results and prospects in the region were presented by the project team running the project with Wetlands International Guinea-Bissau and funded by Turing Foundation.
The choice of PNTC to celebrate World Wetlands Day this year is far from accidental. The park has earned a new status as the fourth Ramsar site in Guinea-Bissau, since 22nd May 2015. '' The erection of PNTC as a Ramsar site was a participatory process with the involvement of the population in the zone'' said Fernando Biaq, the Director of the Mangrove Natural Park of Cacheu. Mr. Biaq added that ''This park is the best mangrove ecosystem in West Africa (8% of the country are occupied by mangroves). It is rich in terms of many natural resources and biodiversity. Each year we receive many species of waterbirds ''.However many problems exist. ''We must face the challenge of bad practices in north, along the border with Senegal due to insecurity, in relation with the Casamance conflict. Because of this unfortunate situation, resources are exploited in a way that does not correspond to the conservation policy. Beside, as a border zone with a strong movement of people, goods and intensive trade, there is irrational exploitation of natural resources by local communities. '' Fernando Biaq stressed
Mr. Lourenço Vaz, Chief of Staff of the Secretary of State for Environment of Guinea-Bissau, called on all actors to invest in resource conservation through environmental education, awareness and mobilization of all, for a better future in relation with the theme of WWD which focused this year on '’wetlands for our future: sustainable living‘’.
A site visit in Bulol Island concluded the celebration of the 2016 edition of the World Wetlands Day. It was celebrated from a Wetlands International initiative in a country with 85% of wetlands.
Pape Diomaye Thiaré