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Public called to protect wetlands

by Staf Reporter
02 Feb 2023 at 14:50hrs | Views
ZIMBABWEANS have been called to ensure there is sustainable management of wetlands through following legislation meant to strengthen the important ecological areas so that the communities continue to derive benefits as the country joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Wetlands Day which is celebrated annually on 2 February.

This year the theme is "It's time for wetlands restoration."

Environmental Management Agency education and publicity manager, Ms Amkela Sidange said the aim of this day was to raise public awareness on the conservation, proper utilization and management of wetlands and their related resources by the communities.

The day also marks the day of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar.

Ms Sidanke said the convention was unique in that it places together efforts to reverse loss of global wetlands and preserve those that were still there.

"We actually applaud our country Zimbabwe in the sense that we are also a signatory to the Ramsar Convention. We ascribe to the position or rather guidelines or procedures of the Ramsar Convention on wise use and conservation of wetlands. What probably is interesting is that we went on to ratify this convention in 2012 which meant that we were now positioning ourselves or committing ourselves to ensuring that we follow all the proclamations or rather what is contained in the Ramsar Convention.

"As we go to the 2023 World Wetland Day, we want to look at how applicable this year's theme is to our own situation. We need to really understand that Zimbabwe has wetland areas that cover almost plus or minus 13 million hectares of the total area of Zimbabwe which is about 34, 96 percent of total wetland area of our country this is according to the national wetland master plan of 2021," she said.

Ms Sidange said if one was to look at the status of those wetlands that were in the country one might realize that about 17, 63 percent of those wetlands were still pristine meaning that they were still in their best natural state and about 55.65 percent of those wetlands indicate that they were now moderately degraded and 26, 72 percent of wetlands were severely degraded.

She says this year's theme gives Zimbabweans a very clear message that they need to consider those wetlands that are still pristine and ensure they judiciously protect what is remaining and go on to restore what has been lost.

"The other interesting thing about this theme is that it comes when we are already implementing a decade of ecosystem restoration which runs from 2021 to 2030 meaning that this theme again fits very well with what we have been doing. We remain excited as an agency to be implementing some of the projects that are increasing wetlands area under sustainable environment management.

"As the agency we want to keep on reminding the public that it remains an offense according to Section 113 of the Environmental Management Act Chapter 20.27 as read with the Statutory Instrument number 7 of 2007 to be found carrying out any activity or utilizing a wetland without proper authorization from the agency," she said.

She said Zimbabwe had come up a concoction of strategies and pieces of policies to try and strengthen wetland management in the country such as the National Wetland Day Policy as well as National Wetland Management Guidelines that were done in 2021.

In 2022, those two pieces went on to be launched by President Mnangagwa seeing them coming into play to strengthen all the efforts that are existing on wetland management.

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