The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Sir Anada Tiega, is in Zimbabwe for World Wetlands Day 2013 Commemorations being held this weekend near Matobo National Park.
Outdoor with Rosie Mitchell
He will visit Bulawayo and Victoria Falls and mid-morning on Monday 4 February, Monavale Vlei, the wetland managed by the Conservation Society of Monavale (COSMO), which constitutes one of so far seven sites round the country selected as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance.
The others are Victoria Falls National Park, Mana Pools, Lake Chivero and Manyame, Driefontein Grasslands, Chinhoyi Caves, and Cleveland Dam.
Zimbabwe has officially acceded to this Convention and will on May 3 become the 164th contracting Party in the Ramsar family. UNESCO has confirmed that the instrument of accession and the names and maps of the seven wetlands were duly received on January 3 2013.
Mukuvisi Woodlands will host a World Wetlands Day Commemoration on February 8 2013 from 10am to 1pm, to be attended by hundreds of schoolchildren, wetlands experts, and anyone interested in learning more about the crisis facing our wetlands and their importance to our water supply.
The Wetland Survival Forum formed at a gathering of experts, journalists and concerned citizens on January 22 has now issued its promised statement about the crisis facing Zimbabwe’s wetlands, particularly those in urban areas, being both eyed for development, and actually developed.
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Urban vleis, already seriously degraded by human interference, can be restored to their natural state when they receive full protection from any human activity or development under existing environmental laws as long as these are timeously and without exception enforced. This has been well-demonstrated by COSMO, set up by concerned residents in the flagship Monavale Vlei area, which succeeded in protecting their vlei effectively and restoring it, now a Ramsar Site, to pristine state. Community involvement in vlei protection is very effective and other residential areas can achieve much by following the COSMO model.
Wetlands catch and hold rainwater both falling on them and running into them. This water is slowly released into the river system. As it passes through the rich, black, spongy earth in the wetland, it is filtered thoroughly, removing pollutants and sewage — a no-cost water purification service.
The rivers in turn fill dams which provide water for towns and cities. In rural areas wetlands perform exactly the same functions, whether or not there are dams. By holding water this way, storing it, releasing it slowly and filtering it, wetlands prevent floods, erosion and water pollution and ensure water security, and so, food security, for all species.
There is no sustainable human use of a wetland. Cultivation, dumping, building, putting under a golf course or a park, any human intervention, on any part of a wetland, is degrading that wetland. Destroying wetlands puts all species — flora, fauna and humankind — at risk of having too little water to sustain life.