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Harare Urged to Revise Master Plan to Safeguard Wetlands

The Network for Environmental and Climate Justice (NECJ) has urged the City of Harare to update its masterplan, drafted in 1993, to better protect the city’s wetlands. These crucial ecosystems are currently facing destruction due to various activities such as unsustainable agriculture, sand mining, illegal construction, and pollution.

Wetlands, including mangroves, peatlands, and marshes, are essential for maintaining the water cycle by recharging underground water and reducing high runoff that leads to flooding. However, in Harare, wetlands are being lost rapidly, posing challenges to water supply and environmental sustainability.

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World Wetlands Day, themed “Wetlands and Human Wellbeing,” highlights the importance of wetlands globally. Unfortunately, statistics reveal that 64% of the world’s wetlands have been lost since 1900, with approximately 50% of Zimbabwe’s wetlands lost between 1980 and 2020.

NECJ emphasizes the need for an updated masterplan that integrates wetland protection into land use planning. This would help preserve wetlands and promote sustainable development in the capital. Additionally, the implementation of Local Environmental Action Plans (LEAPs) as mandated by the Environmental Management Act is crucial for wetland protection.

Zimbabwe, as a signatory to the Ramsar Convention and with protective legislation in place, has a responsibility to safeguard its wetlands. However, concerted efforts are needed to enforce regulations and ensure the long-term preservation of these vital ecosystems.

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