The Department of Natural Resources comprises of the Natural Resources Office, the Lands and Physical Planning Office as well as the Forestry, Environment & Wetlands Office. It is charged with the responsibility of ensuring sustainable and productive utilisation of natural resources for poverty reduction, enhanced economic growth and improved livelihoods.
The major causes of the deterioration in the quality and the quantity of the natural resource base is associated with human activity. There is massive deforestation particularly on privately owned land where over 80% of the districts tree resources are. This is closely followed by wetland degradation as a result of cultivation of crops. Other threats are soil erosion whose magnitude and impact has never been quantified.
The District faces many sustainable development challenges. Some of the challenges for sustainable development include high level of poverty and population density of 372 Km2. The District is described as a natural resource based-economy with over 80 percent of the rural households engaged in subsistence agriculture. However, it should be noted that there is increasing shortage of arable land for subsistence agriculture. The District is faced with severe depletion of soil nutrients, increasing levels of poverty as a result of slow down of agriculture, more so, loss of soil fertility.
In the quest for the population to meet the demands of life, the environment provides resources which are harnessed for this purpose. The construction of buildings/roads, cultivation of crops, rearing of animals and other man-made activities degrade the natural environment and invariably alters the local ecology. The demands on natural resources will continue to grow as young people establish their families. As young people leave their parents� homes in search of new opportunities, set up their households, and begin having children, level of migration, urbanisation, consumption and population growth are likely to increase.
Deteriorating environmental conditions associated with expanding agriculture or deforestation can cause threats to human health. For example, deteriorating water quality can contribute to the spread of communicable diseases.
Environmental Opportunities in Budaka District
The District has major swamps like Namatala which runs to the boarder of Budaka to Butaleja at Lyama sub-county. These wetlands, if properly managed, could provide the necessary functions associated with wetlands. The District has two local forest reserves which could be developed into ecological zones and be used as demonstration centres for agro-forestry. The District Agricultural Training and Information Centre (DATIC) at Iki-iki provides a good avenue for raising tree and fruit seedlings on large scale. DATIC IKi-Iki has facilities like the green-house for raising all types of seedlings both for demonstration purposes and for the market within and outside the District.
Challenges on natural resource base of the District
The identified activities which degrade the environment in the District include but not limited to the following: mining of marrum for road works which leave marrum borrow-pits unattended to, mining of sand for construction of buildings, making of bricks have adverse effect on the environment. The high demand of household and institutional furniture, wood fuel, timber for roofing, timber for burning of bricks among others causes a serious threat to the woodlots in the District. The extensive stands of Mvule trees which was the pride of the District is now no more. The Mvule tree stocks at various locations of the District have been relentlessly depleted as a source of local revenue. Uncontrolled damping of household and industrial refuse destroys the environment. This may lead to water and air pollution.
There are a number of burrow pits for sand and marram mining. These burrow pits are created when excavating either sand or murram for construction activities and road works. The unattended to borrow-pits for marram, sand and clay are breeding grounds for malaria causing mosquitoes. When the health is affected by the environmental problems, the ability of the people to manage their environment automatically becomes undermined. This reveals that there is every close linkage between health and the environment. The excessive depletion of tree cover has a serious bearing on the climatic condition in the area to the extent that weather changes have been felt and the farmers� calendar distorted. This has a direct bearing on food production since the types of crops grown are rain-fed. The conversion of wetlands into other uses causes flooding, silting and loss of biodiversity. This