By Shingirai Vambe
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has started the process of facilitating for the declaration of certain pieces of land which have been identified in the National wetlands Master Plan as sensitive areas.
Following the mass-destruction of these specious pieces of land, covered with natural and God made creatures, the ecosystem seized to exist largely in the capital Harare through the development of residential and commercial buildings.
The Agency has however moved with speed and identified these areas as Ecological Sensitive Areas (ESAs) thus giving powers to the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister to declare and even impose developmental limitations as defined in section 113 of the Environmental Management Act.
The destruction of wetlands affect the natural sponge effect on the conservative part of both reserved and rainfall water which will flow down the resulting in deterioration of the ecological integrity of wetlands resulting in loss of ecosystem services such as water purification, rivers or stream recharge, flood control to mention just a few.
Climate Change experts told Post On Sunday that the ignorance and corrupt political tendencies have left these results of loss of biodiversity as well as the aesthetic value of wetlands.
Section 70(b) of the constitution states that, “to have the environment protected for the benefit of the present and future generation through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation, promote conservation and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting economic and social development.
Vast pieces of land were taken and or given to investors, through government ministries and the long term effects of climate change are already being felt as the water tables have been reportedly gone down making it difficult for citizens to get access to clean drinking water from the boreholes as they now need to drill further down to at least 100m.
EMA spokesperson, Amkela Sidange, confirmed and told this publication that it is the first phase being taken towards strengthening sustainable management of wetlands.
“Wetlands remain one of the country’s vital ecosystems that have traditionally provided a wide range of ecological goods and services, hence it is everyone’s obligation to priorities their judicious protection” said Sidange.
Zimbabwe is endowed with various wetlands pieces covering approximately 13 659 579ha which is 34.96 percent of the total area of Zimbabwe and according to the National wetlands Master plan(2011) the available wetlands consist of 75 percent.
Sidange told Post On Sunday that, “The Agency also want to take this opportunity to discourage cultivation on wetlands, with the fast approaching rainy season many people are already preparing land for farming and mostly in urban area this is done encroaching into wetland areas.
We urge local authorities to control urban farming using their bylaws to ensure in the process that cultivation is not done in ecological fragile ecosystems such as wetlands and stream banks” added Sidange.
Meanwhile Matebeleland South Province has been hit by whirlwinds which have left a trail of destruction of schools, clinics, churches and homes Sunday evening and many were left homeless and property destroyed.
The wind was accompanied by heavy rains which left people in Gwanda with no option but see refugee in neighbor’s shelter.