In November last year, two Ramsar officials visited Zimbabwe to check on the country’s progress in implementing the Ramsar Convention.
Dele Amah, a top Ramsar secretariat official and assistant to the Ramsar Advisor in Africa, and Denis Landenbergue of World Wildlife Fund visited Zimbabwe barely two years after a Anada Tiega, Secretary General of the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands came to have a look at our Ramsar sites.
The team is understood to have held discussions with the Ministry of Environment, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA), the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (which manages the Zambezi River Basin), and environmental group representatives in order to update Zimbabwe’s list of wetlands which are part of the Ramsar Convention.
The visit by the officials was also expected to appraise the secretariat about future projects among them, a multi-million dollar Ramsar Education Centre for Southern Africa slated to be constructed at Lake Chivero.
Speaking to Harare News last year, stakeholders in the conservation and preservation of wetlands, expressed concern at the rushed visit of the team. Though acknowledging that Ramsar visits are sanctioned on a government level, they bemoaned the lack of consultation with stakeholders prior to the team’s visit and the short time allotted to the team to appreciate wetland issues in Zimbabwe. Harare News has yet to hear what the visiting officials had to say about the state of Zimbabwe’s wetlands.
There has been growing local concern over the matter, in particular those designated as Ramsar sites. All of the sites listed in Zimbabwe have been under threat of commercial development and environmental degradation such as pollution, rampant poaching and loss of biodiversity.
The Ramsar convention on wetlands provides a framework for wetland conservation and asks that nations promote the sustainable use and conservation of wetlands.
The Ramsar secretariat follows up on the commitments by nations and investigates their use of wetlands by undertaking environmental impact assessments, making wetland inventories, establishing nature reserves, training wetland managers, consulting with other parties, and assisting in the operations of the Convention.
Zimbabwe has seven Ramsar sites, two of which are in and around Harare: Cleveland Dam, Lake Chivero and Manyame, Dreinfontein Grasslands, Chinhoyi Caves, Monavale Vlei, Mana Pools and Victoria Falls.
Image: Lake Chivero
Image Credit: Stephen Tsoroti