BY OBERT SIAMILANDU
A LOCAL conservationist has said the Zambezi Valley ecology is under threat from hydrocarbon exploration and extraction of minerals.
Jaeninne Norris, a conservationist with Zambezi Valley Conservation Network, yesterday told NewsDay that small-scale mining and gold panning was a growing environmental and wildlife threat and was becoming a complex socio-economic issue.
“This practice, along with commercial mining is illegal in riverbeds and in the protected areas under the management of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks), unless a permit is issued by the Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister with the consent of the Mines minister,” Norris said.
“It is a challenge to mitigate threats such as this which are driven by poverty as we cannot solve poverty, especially in remote communities. However, we believe that the first step is thorough research into the issue, to better understand the key factors and economic drivers, in order to develop appropriate, data-driven solutions that will benefit rural communities and mitigate the pressure on our natural resources.”
The Zambezi Valley Conservation Network is exploring innovative solutions for mining and believes there are opportunities for conservation entities to partner with development organisations which are experienced in developing, rolling out and scaling viable sustainable livelihood programmes.
While mining has been identified as a key sector for the attainment of National Development Strategy 1 goals, the impact of some mining operations has become a cause of concern.
The government promulgated Statutory Instrument 104 of 2021 Environmental Management (Control of Alluvial Mining) (Amendment) Regulations, 2021 (No 2) which regulates mining operations across the country.
Zimbabwe is in the process of reviewing mining laws and policies to ensure communities benefit from their resources and to improve transparency in the