"The growing population is the main cause of environment deterioration in Burundi", says Samuel Ndayiragije, Director of Burundi Office for Environment Protection [OBPE], at the closure of the environment week on 14 June. He says Burundi has 11 million people who still occupy the same territory that three million people used to occupy back in the independence period, in 1961, with a big demand for natural resources. "The population eat, use water and must breathe. There is then a lot of pressure on the environment which consequently causes its deterioration", says Ndayiragije.
Among the threats to the environment include crop production in areas reserved for pastures or forests in former times, bush fires that ravage forests, illicit animal hunt as well as illegal quarrying and stone extraction in rivers.
Ndayiragije says the environment degradation is remarkable both in the country and city. In addition, he says, soil erosion due to deforestation, improper terracing, and overgrazing pose also a serious threat to the environment.
"The erosion removes almost 4 tons of soil per hectare of land in the eastern region of the country each year, 40 tons of soil per hectare each year in the center of the country while more than 100 tons per hectare in "Mumirwa" region are taken away every year, which means that by 2030 there will be no more soil in that region, he says.
Jean Marie Sabushimike, an environmental expert says the challenges of the environment are known, it remains to implement the action plans. "It's time to back our words with actions. Studies on the environmental vulnerability in Burundi have been conducted but are not considered. Laws and codes are there but are not applied. We have everything but keep losing", he says.
The director of Burundi Office for the Protection of Environment says the sensitization campaigns together with the taking of some measures against people who pose a threat to the environment should be regular. "None is above the law", says Ndayiragije. He also says the reforestation campaign continues by planting trees on a 50 ha territory in each commune of the country by 2030.