HomeNewsDestruction of wetlands has serious implications: EMA

Destruction of wetlands has serious implications: EMA

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BY VANESSA GONYE

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has urged the public to appreciate climate change and the preservation of the environment in order to ensure sustainability for future generations.

The call came at a time the country is experiencing flooding due to violations of wetlands.

EMA environmental education and publicity manager Amkela Sidange told NewsDay that the agency commemorated the World Wetlands Day yesterday, urging people settled on wetlands and along stream banks to vacate the areas in order to preserve the environment.

She said the destruction of wetlands had serious implications.

“Wetlands act as water purifiers, hence their degradation results in poor water quality, which also results in the need for use of many chemicals in water purification. This also increases the cost of water to consumers,” Sidange said.

“Wetlands are an integral part of the hydrological system as they act as a major catalyst in rain formation and a pacifier in extreme weather conditions, remaining a stalemate in the climate change trajectory.”

She said EMA was mandated through the Environmental Management Act (CAP 20:27), section 113, to prosecute anyone found carrying out an activity likely to cause degradation of a wetland without authority from the agency.

“Through the environmental impact assessment procedure, the agency has been able, in the past year alone, to reject over 20 wetland projects on site suitability, and in the process protected wetlands,” Sidange said, adding that most of the affected illegal projects were in Harare and involved housing co-operatives.

Gokwe North district environmental officer Allan Machenjedze said agricultural activities in his area of jurisdiction were ravaging the remaining wetlands.

“Communities are setting up gardens (commonly known as madhaikombi) for subsistence farming. As a result, most streams are now heavily silted and this has a huge impact on floods experienced in the district.

“Infrastructure threatened by the floods includes roads, bridges, houses and powerlines. Several tickets and orders to move from flood plains have been issued resulting in 42 households in Mutimuri area relocated to safe places,” Machenjedze said.

Follow Vanessa on Twitter @vanessa_gonye

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