‘Protect wetlands for ecological benefit

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has placed wetlands management at the core of its development agenda to ensure judicious utilisation of these important ecological assets, a cabinet minister has said.

Commemorating World Wetlands Day, the minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndhlovu said wetlands in the country required protection and restoration for the benefit of present and future generations.

He said studies had shown that 55.6 percent of the country’s wetlands were moderately degraded, 26.7 percent severely so, and only 17.6 percent were in pristine condition.

As a result, the government had come up with a master-plan to protect and rehabilitate wetlands, which were an important source of water and bio-diversity.

“The Second Republic has placed wetlands management at the core of its development agenda and put in place governance tools to ensure judicious utilisation of these important ecological assets,” Ndhlovu said.

“During the development of the wetlands master-plan, it was found that, 17.63 percent of the wetlands are in a pristine condition, 55.65 percent moderately degraded and 26.72 percent severely degraded,” he added.

Ndhlovu said since 2021, a total of 103 wetlands with a total area of 350 550 hectares had been put under sustainable management across the country, and more such projects were on the cards. “In September 2021, government through Treasury disbursed a $30 million grant which was fully utilised for the rehabilitation of three wetland rehabilitation projects, namely Marongere in Masvingo district, Nyamhara in UMP district and Ndabambi in Gweru district,” he said.

“In addition, the Environmental Management Agency(EMA), using its own core resources, supported some components of the three initial projects as well three new projects, namely Mpompini, Mazvide and Guga wetlands. The components include the protection of sensitive wetland portions, water harvesting and establishment of consolidated gardens, among others.

Moreover, a number of reclamation projects are also underway throughout the country under the auspices of development partners working with the government,” he added.

Ndhlovu said some communities were already enjoying the fruits of government’s wetland restoration projects through increased water discharge and associated livelihood options in all the country’s 10 provinces. “We will leave no one nor any place behind,” he said.— New Ziana

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