Kigezi has a very rich ecological biodiversity it has species that are not found in other regions or even in the world we have our beautiful mountains, hills, valleys, swamps Rivers and many other natural resources our fertile soils and a courageous hard working people. Today in my series of articles about tea growing I would want to explain how tea might erode our ecological biodiversity.
Ecological Biodiversity is the diversity of ecosystems, natural communities and habitats. In essence, it’s the variety of ways that species interact with each other and their environment. The forests of Kibale differ from the forests of Bwindi and Mughinga by the types of species found in ecosystems, as well as the temperature and rainfall. These two seemingly similar ecosystems have a lot of differences that make them both special.
Biodiversity is extremely important to people and the health of ecosystems. A few of the reasons are:
Biodiversity allows us to live healthy and happy lives. It provides us with an array of foods and materials and it contributes to the economy. Without a diversity of pollinators, plants, and soils, our food baskets and markets would have a lot less produce.
Most medical discoveries to cure diseases and lengthen life spans were made because of research into plant and animal biology and genetics. Every time a species goes extinct or genetic diversity is lost, we will never know whether research would have given us a new vaccine or drug for both the existing diseases and the new diseases to come since we would have lost the species.
Biodiversity is an important part of ecological services that make life liveable on Earth. They include everything from cleaning water and absorbing chemicals, which wetlands do, to providing oxygen for us to breathe, one of the many things that plants do for people
. However the above functions are threatened because of the tea developments in Kigezi Modern agricultural methods and technologies brought spectacular increases in food and economic production, but not without high environmental costs. Tea isn’t an exception. Efforts to boost tea production, for example, through direct expansion of tea land, will negatively affect the capacity of ecosystems to support food production and to provide other essential services. Food production will undoubtedly be affected by external factors such as climate change.
Tea is a perennial plantation crop grown under monoculture providing favourable conditions for a variety of pests. The concept of pest control has undergone a considerable change over the past few decades. In recent years there has been a greater dependence on the use of pesticides with little importance laid on other safe control methods for the management of tea pests. Due to this practice, the tea pests showed a higher tolerance/ resistance status due to formation of greater amount of esterases, glutathione S-transferase and acetyl cholinesterase
With the loss of biodiversity in both natural and agricultural systems comes the loss of other ecosystem services. In addition to food, fibre and water provisioning, regulating services such as air, water and climate regulation, water purification, pollination and pest control, as well as providing resilience against natural hazards and disasters and environmental change, are among the numerous examples of ecosystem services being lost under increasing intensification and expansion of agriculture. This adds to the fact that all other trees and animal species would have died as the tea expansion projects are under way. Therefore we must not only be scared about food security alone but we must be keen and be able to learn and know that we might lose our most important animals the gorillas in years to come is we don’t think hard
Before I finish today’s article however lets open up and considering that the central component in preventing loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as provisioning of water, from expanding agricultural production is to limit the trade-off between economic growth and biodiversity by stimulating agricultural productivity and more efficient land use. Therefore the people of Kigezi should keenly look into this and manage to make the tradeoffs that make them better people and if it’s not necessary to have the tea growing expanded it can be halted!