Harare (New Ziana)-The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has since 2018, rejected at least 38 projects which were supposed to be undertaken on wetlands as part of its mandate to protect them, an official said on Thursday.
A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently (for years or decades) or seasonally (for weeks or months).
The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands from terrestrial land forms or water bodies is the characteristic vegetation of aquatic plants, adapted to the unique soils which are oxygenless and permanently or seasonally saturated with water.
Wetlands are considered among the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems, serving as home to a wide range of plant and animal species, some on critical endangered lists.
EMA spokesperson Amkela Sidange told New Ziana that the agency has rejected 38 projects from 2018 to date.
“From 2018 to date, we have rejected 38 proposed projects in areas where there are wetlands across the country.
“There are so many projects that we have rejected at the planning stage. When we are given a layout then we just reject them. But there are some that are made to go and do their Environmental Impact Assessment and then rejected at that stage,” she said.
Sidange said last year, EMA issued 18 tickets for violating wetlands management regulations.
“Just this past year, 2021 in Harare 18 tickets have been issued for violating the law that has to do with wetland management,” she said.
City of Harare spokesperson Michael Chideme said: “The City of Harare respects wetlands because of the important work they do in the purification and preservation of ground water and also as tourist attractions and as habitants for fauna and flora.
“That is the reason why you see us demolishing structures built on wetlands because they are illegal,” he said.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention which provides an international legal framework on the protection of wetlands and on Wednesday it joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Wetlands Day with Acting President General (Retired) Constantino Chiwengwa leading the commemorations which were held in Masvingo.
VP Chiwenga took the opportunity of the commemorations to launch the National Wetlands Policy and Wetlands Management Guidelines which, among other things, will give direction to and impetus to ongoing drive to restore wetlands in the country.
It was the first time that countries in the world celebrated the day after the United Nations proclaimed it in August last year.