Harare — ZIMBABWE is taking concrete action to review and further integrate bio-diversity considerations in the development and implementation of the three Rio Conventions and national sustainable development through the ecosystem approach to biodiversity conservation, Minister of Environment and Tourism Cde Francis Nhema has said.
He was speaking in Curitiba, Brazil at the 8th Conference of Parties for the Convention of Biological Diversity. He said Zimbabwe had learnt that local communities often conserved valuable biological resources and not the outsiders. "More often than not, local communities have their own methods of conserving biodiversity. Organising communities through their traditional leaders is often effective in conserving biodiversity," said Cde Nhema. He said the Campfire programme, Social Forestry programmes, Trans Boundary Resources Management initiatives, including tourism, were contributing successfully to the Millennium Development Goals.
"On agro-biodiversity, my Government is promoting the conservation and sustainable utilisation of plant generic resources for food and agriculture in the country. "My country is promoting the revival of the 'Zunde RaMambo' (Chief's Silo) concept in recognising the role of traditional leaders in grain storage schemes. Cde Nhema said the concept was also being extended to tree planting programmes to recognise traditional leaders in tree planting and maintenance of biodiversity. Legislation, he said, played a key role in Zimbabwe in mainstreaming the goals of the strategic plan of the convention and a number of key steps had been taken to implement the objectives of the convention.
"An environmental law reform process led to the enactment of the Environmental Management Act in 2003, which is the principle legislation for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. "However, areas needing strengthening include human and financial resources capacity to implement it," he said. Cde Nhema said Zimbabwe lies within the dry and sub-humid ecosystem with 15 percent of the country protected as national parks, forest reserves, botanical gardens and Government plans to increase the area under protection by another 15 percent through conservancies and inland water catchments. He said, in 2000, Zimbabwe launched the National Bi odiversity Strategy and Action Plan where a number of priority actions were identified.
"It supports the need for increased capacity within parties to implement the convention, particularly with regard to updating the national biodiversity strategy plan, policies, legislation and national reports," he said. He, however, said the country required capacity building and strengthening in areas such as setting up of clearing house mechanisms, all flora and fauna taxonomy and in the setting of national targets and indicators to assess the current rate of biodiversity loss and to monitor progress towards the 2010 target.
On co-operation, Cde Nhema said Zimbabwe was involved in transfrontier conservation programmes such as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and the Sadc Regional Biodiversity Support Programme. "We call upon donors and parties to support sub-regional transboundary initiatives," he said.