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Let the new year bring great change

Happy new year everyone!

While we celebrate the coming of the new year, maybe let us also look at the changes that would make 2013 a truly happy year, as far as the environment is concerned.

Ending 2012, we talked about the environmental problems that bedevilled Zimbabwe, most of them serious enough to endanger not only our flora and fauna, but the welfare of virtually everyone living in the country.

I know from my tone, some would feel I am being too much of an alarmist, and I honestly wish this was nothing but false alarm . . . but it is not!

The environmental conditions in Zimbabwe are far from being healthy and unless the powers that be finally decide to put their promises into action, things will continue to crumble, right until the environment can no longer sustain us.

Take the contentious wetland abuse issue for instance, which proved to be a popular subject in 2012. In spite of all the lobbying by different groups for the abuse of the ecologically-sensitive areas to stop, wetlands continued to be invaded.

It would seem the fact that wetlands are our main source of water supply is a point that has escaped responsible authorities.

Monetary benefit from the sale of the wetland areas to land developers has so far appeared to be their top priority.

But unless we decide we no longer need water to survive, the continued invasion of wetlands and their conversion to other uses will see us having even less water than we already have.

With the country currently wailing under insufficient water supplies with areas like Ruwa having gone for years without any potable water supply, one can just imagine the scenario if the situation were to get any worse than it already is.

It is my sincere hope that 2013 would finally see the responsible authorities coming back to their senses and realising this trend just cannot be allowed to go on. I hope 2013 will see the restoration of the country’s wetlands.

Mining companies must co-operate

At the end of 2012, mining companies (both small scale and large scale) had through their unconventional ways of operating, proven to be destructive to the environment.

It would seem by end of last year, most mining companies still had not understood that they had to operate in a manner that as much as possible minimised environmental degradation. Mining, when done carelessly, has been known to have a seriously negative environmental impact. This characterises mining in Zimbabwe.

There has been a lot of damage on the country’s landscapes, with open pits being a common site. It is apparent most companies do not take seriously enough the need to reclaim the land to its previous state after concluding their activities.

Furthermore, there was much concern over some companies dumping dangerous chemicals in rivers which people depend on for water supply.

Some companies operating in the Chiadzwa diamond fields for instance were reportedly dumping their chemicals in Save River, endangering thousands of people’s health while killing their livestock. This has been observed to be the trend in other mining areas as well.

While it cannot be denied that in mining lies the hope for the revival of the country’s economic base, it needs to be done in a manner that does not kill the environment.

The economy cannot be allowed to revive at the expense of ecology!

Hopefully, necessary steps would be taken in 2013 to make it mandatory for mining companies to operate in a manner that does not continue to upset the ecological balance, all in the name of reviving the economy.

As the festive season comes to an end, you only need to look around you to see how much of a problem litter still is. In spite of massive clean-up campaigns last year as some companies and individuals volunteered to help solve the waste management problem, which had clearly proved too huge for responsible authorities to handle alone, people continue to litter.

Besides cleaning up and providing disposal bins (which are in serious short supply), maybe it is time to concentrate more on changing the nation’s mindset towards littering. I hope by end of 2013 the majority of us will find it embarrassing to litter.

There needs to be emphasis on what I believe to be the three main pillars of waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Wildlife poaching is yet another problem that urgently requires correctional measures, otherwise we might soon have no wildlife to talk about. I hope more poachers get arrested in 2013.

Forests need to be preserved

Veld fires and deforestation proved to be another pair of problems that caused headaches for conservationists. Maybe 2013 can present a solution to ending the proliferation of wild fires and the restoration of the country’s once rich forests.

But of course that would only be made possible if the powers that be begin to tackle such issues with the seriousness they deserve.
This is to a prosperous 2013 everybody!

  • For feedback email; cmasara@standard.co.zw

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