Urbanisation threatens wildlife corridors


THE rapid growth of cities and towns in the country is threatening wildlife species as it had negative implications on the environment.

Wildlife expert Cephas Shonhiwa yesterday told NewsDay that the growth of cities and towns affected local biodiversity as forests are home to several animal species and large mammals such as elephants.

“The large-scale clearance and development of forest land to facilitate infrastructure projects to support the expansion of cities and towns has led to the fragmentation of contiguous forest areas,” Shonhiwa said.

“Anthropogenic landscape alterations are both far-reaching and increasing in rapidity. A tactic central to this conservation strategy is to link landscapes and protected areas through the implementation of landscape corridors.

“Establishing corridors in fragmented landscapes either through rehabilitating known historical connections or implementing newly-modelled corridors has been shown to have numerous positive effects on biodiversity.  In addition to serving as habitats, corridors have been shown to facilitate movement within and among meta-populations and to promote species resilience to environmental changes,” he said.

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) country director Olivia Mufute said there was critical need for land use planning in the country to protect wildlife species.

“Planning is an important process as it provides a framework to guide future developments, making best use of land resources through systemic assessments.

“For instance, the AWF has supported the development of the Mbire district land use plan (2020 to 2030) as a framework for efficient, effective, equitable and economic use of the land in the process of planning and implementing developments in the district,” Mufute said.

A United Nations (2017) report projected that the world population would shoot to 10 billion by 2050 with the majority of people concentrated in urban areas.

It said the situation would lead to changes in land use patterns, increasing demand on natural resources, also resulting in pollution and loss of biodiversity.

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