31 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Land Use Changes Affect Wetlands, Says Government

Government has bemoaned the impact from land use changes that are negatively affecting wetlands.

Water diversions and infrastructure development continued to drive the degradation and loss of wetlands.

Addressing journalists during the 2013 World Wetlands Day in Harare yesterday, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Francis Nhema said there had been marked wetland degradation as a result of uncontrolled and poorly planned urban infrastructure development.

"This has increased pressure on natural resources within and beyond urban areas, thus threatening not only wetlands, but also human health," said Minister Nhema.

Minister Nhema said the wetlands had the potential to operate as essential water management infrastructure while regulating the impacts of increasing urbanisation. He said there was a need not to underestimate the role of wetlands as basic water management elements within the supply and regulation process upon which humanity depended.

"Wetlands deliver essential environmental, social and economic goods and services, such as local level climate control, flood mitigation, food, and acting as regulators and providers of water."

He added: "The link between water resources management and the wise use of wetlands cannot be separated.

"Access to a clean and adequate supply of water is a basic requirement for human survival."

The World Wetlands Day culminated from the signing on February 1, 1971 of the Ramsar Convention in Iran.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the convention, and has seven sites designated as Ramsar sites. This year's national commemoration - whose theme is "Wetlands Take Care of Water - Protect Them" - will be held on Friday in Matobo District, Matabeleland South province at Malilangombe Wetland.

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