Controlling invasive plant species draining Zimbabwe

Harare (New Ziana) -The Zimbabwe government spends US$50 million annually to fight invasive alien plant species and
livestock diseases, a situation which poses a challenge to efforts to attain an upper middle income economy by 2030.

Environment, Climate, Tourism and hospitality Industry permanent secretary Raphael Faranisi said this at a workshop to develop the invasive alien species (IAS) national action plan which the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organised in the capital on Wednesday.

He said the government has been making concerted efforts to reduce the
impacts of IAS on biodiversity and the economy.

“The country went on to enact the Environmental Management Act of 2003
which has provisions for the prevention and management of IAS. Further, the country revised the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
(NBSAP) in 2014,” he said.

“In the NBSAP the country had targeted that by 2020, the threats to biodiversity from invasive alien species would have been assessed, and measures put in place to control and manage their impact emanating from wildlife areas.”

Faranisi said according to the Sixth National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, more than 150 non-native species have been identified in the country, including 30 that are listed among 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species.

He said Lantana camara, which is invasive in Zimbabwe, has been shown to harm native vegetation structure and composition in the Gonarezhou National Park, while another non-native plant, black wattle, is a serious threat to grassland diversity and avifauna in and around the Nyanga National Park.

Faranisi said in an effort to respond to the threat to biodiversity, the economy and food security by IAS, the international community developed
the Global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

The plan envisaged that by 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are
identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment, he explained.

Faranisi said at least 37 000 alien species have been introduced by
human activities to regions and major life zones around the world, whilst the global economic cost of invasive alien species exceeded $423 billion annually in 2019 with costs having at least quadrupled every decade since 1970.

Speaking at the same event, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries,
Water and Rural Development permanent secretary Dr John Basera the
threat of invasive species poses a significant challenge to the
sustainability and productivity of agricultural practices.

He called for the establishment of comprehensive and integrated programs
to prevent the introduction of invasive alien species into the country
through strengthening of border controls to effectively monitor imported
goods, such as seeds, plants, and agricultural machinery, adding that
strict regulations and enforcement must be implemented to ensure compliance and prevent accidental introductions.

“Secondly, we must invest in research and scientific studies to enhance our understanding of invasive species prevalent in our region,” he said.

“By identifying the species that pose the greatest risk and studying their habits, reproduction patterns, and preferred habitats, we can develop targeted and effective strategies to manage and control their populations.”

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