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Murehwa’s Gutu community commended for preserving wetland


By Archford Chirimudombo

MARONDERA- The Gutu community in Murehwa districts Ward 8 has been commended for its efforts in sustaining wetlands by fostering the integrated management approaches that enhances the well-being of communities while maintaining wetland ecosystems.

More than 350 households are benefitting from the wetland. A wetland is an area saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem.

Wetlands, which include mangroves, peatlands, and marshes, among other water bodies, play a pivotal role in the water cycle as they recharge underground water by allowing it to sink into the soil, reducing high runoff which is a major cause of flooding.

Official data shows that approximately 50 percent of the 1 117 wetlands countrywide were lost between 1980 and 2020.

Speaking at the World Wetlands Day national commemorations last week, the Minister of Environment, Climate and Wildlife Dr Mangaliso Ndhlovu called for more collaborative efforts to strengthen wetland management solutions.

World Wetlands Day is a global day of environmental importance commemorated to mark the signing of the Treaty on the Conservation of Wetlands, which was signed on the 2nd of February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.

This year’s commemorations were held under the theme: ‘Wetlands and Human Wellbeing’ – which highlights that implications of wetlands for human wellbeing are far-reaching and interconnected across environmental, social and economic domains.

Dr Ndhlovu said: “Murehwa being a dry region it is pleasing to note that wetlands protection and conservation is still possible. I am told that this project is growing and benefiting over 350 households which is commendable. I feel excited as the Patron of the Environment to see our own communities coming out from the slumber of denial to claim responsibility over the health of their environmental goods and services-well done Murehwa, well done Zimbabwe.

“The integrated catchment management approach that the project is premised on is the way to go in all our conservation efforts. As a country let’s invest more in collaborative efforts aimed at encouraging community engagement to identify and strengthen community-led wetland monitoring and management solutions.”

He thanked Ward 8 and the Gutu community for the conservation of wetlands while at the same time deriving sustainable livelihood from them.

“The last COP 28 impressed on recognising the important role that stakeholders play and the need to enable contributions, in particular the indigenous people, youth, women and girls, local communities, and the business sector in conserving, restoring and wisely using wetlands and providing solutions to global environmental, social, and economic challenges.”

Reports indicate that wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests and it was essential to promote sustainable development to ensure the continued prosperity of future generations.

“Reversing this trend is critical as wetland species are facing extinction. One in three freshwater species and 25 percent of all wetland species face extinction from wetland decline. At least 81 percent of inland wetland species and 36 percent of coastal and marine species have declined in the last 50 years,” the Minister told the Gutu community.

The Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs and Devolution Dr Aplonia Munzverengwi expressed her gratitude for the decision made to have the province host this year’s national World Wetlands Day.

She said: “I am very grateful that our province has been chosen to host such an important event on the international calendar at national level. Mashonaland is the right place as it is endowed with a lot of wetlands especially in districts like Murehwa, Mutoko, Marondera and Seke. Most wetlands in this province are supporting rural livelihoods.

“A substantial amount of horticultural produce such as tomatoes, onions and green vegetables at Mbare Musika were from some productive wetlands in Mashonaland East, inclusive of Gutu wetland. Let us treasure our wetlands for the life they support and the resources they provide.

Dr Munzverengwi thanked the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife for facilitating the gazzeting of wetlands so that they are sustainably managed.

Eighteen wetlands were gazzeted in Marondera Urban, the provincial capital last year.

Zimbabwe is a signatory to the 1971 Ramsar Convention on the prevention of loss and degradation of wetlands.

In the country, wetlands are protected under the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20;27), Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 on Environmental Management (Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection) Regulations and the Government Gazette 380 of 2013.

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