|HCI – Okavango's Advisory Council meets at Guma |
On Monday (June12), Conservation International's Okavango program gathered its national advisory council for a meeting at Guma lagoon. The group included some of Botswana's top environmental leaders. We asked them to comment on their concerns about the Delta as well as their hopes for its future.
Excerpts from some of the council members' comments follow.
Minister of Lands and Housing
"The Okavango is not just a natural resource but a beautiful place to come to visit. I grew up here and over the last 10, 15 years I've seen a lot of change. Things are always changing – the river in my hometown no longer flows...There is a lot of potential here to use resources sustainably but we need a better system of management. We need to balance the needs for people and ecosystems. This kind of scientific research (AquaRAP) will provide us with important biological information for policy making...I'd like to see our people become more involved in the tourism business but we need to build awareness. Because tourism requires a high level of capital investment, we also need to attract international investors. We should treasure this resource so that when we look back on how much we had 10 years ago and what we have another 10 years after that, the resources are still valued."
Kgosi Tawana Moremi II
|Commander in chief of the |
BDF and Chief of the Okavango
Tribal leader of Delta region
"The Delta can be a great resource for ecotourism. I believe that if people see benefits in ecotourism, they will work harder to conserve it (the natural environment). Our communities have the potential to make tourism work but they do need technical assistance and investment. Some people around the Delta have put a lot of work into it so far – like in Moremi, which is the heart of wildlife conservation in Botswana. My dream is to see the Okavango Delta turned into a biosphere reserve (permanently protected area)."
Construction business owner
"My business is environmentally-friendly construction. I've patented a process for constructing roads and runways using sand and other natural materials – nothing man-made. These are the types of businesses that are good for an ecologically sensitive region like this. The Okavango Delta is a great tourist destination. We need investments and activities here that will protect the region. One of our big environmental challenges is the fence issue. The cattle that's raised in Botswana is not for domestic consumption and it puts one of our greatest natural resources, wildlife, in jeopardy."
– Lani Asato