Thupeyo Muleya–Beitbridge Bureau
THE Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is finalising the processes to declare ecological sensitive areas in line with the National Wetlands Master Plan, which was announced by Cabinet in June, an official has said.
The organisation’s Environment Education and Publicity Manager, Ms Amkela Sidange said yesterday the new order would be gazetted soon.
She said the declaration will give powers to the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry to impose developmental limitations in and around such areas as a way of protecting them.
Anyone found in violation of the declaration, Ms Sidange said, will be liable to a punishable offence as enshrined in Section 114 of the same Act.
“This is in line with Section 113 of the Environmental Management Act (CAP 20:27. We have since issued out public notices to that effect to allow for the general public to make submissions where necessary on the intended declaration, in observance of rules of natural justice as enshrined in Section 136 of the same Act”.
Ms Sidange said the submissions by members of the public will ensure that every person whose interests are likely to be affected by the exercise of the function is given adequate opportunity to make representations in the matter.
She called on Zimbabweans to take advantage of the process and contribute towards the achievement of this milestone in the history of wetland management in the country.
The notices, she said, can be accessed on both electronic and print media platforms, EMA offices countrywide and the City of Harare.
“The wetlands listed in the notices were identified based on their uniqueness and degree of sensitivity. Other factors including goods and services offered by the wetland, risk, vegetation in the wetland, soils in the wetland, and wetland hydrology were also considered,” said Ms Sidange.
She said wetlands remained one of the country’s vital ecosystems that have traditionally provided a wide range of ecological goods and services.
So far the Government has committed funds towards strengthening sustainable wetland management on about 140ha of wetland area drawn from about 23 wetlands, in both urban and rural setups countrywide.
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