Wetland near Harare

From http://allafrica.com
Zimbabwe: No to Illegal Use of Wetlands – Govt
By Tsungirirai Dhambuza, 31 January 2012

GOVERNMENT has warned that it will descend heavily on people who use wetlands illegally. Environment and Natural Resources Management Minister Francis Nhema said this yesterday in a statement ahead of the World Wetlands Day commemorations to be held on Thursday in Victoria Falls.

“At this point in time I wish to appeal to the media to take the challenge and help spread information of wetlands, their link with tourism as well as the impact that awaits mankind as a result of their massive deterioration.

“As a ministry, we shall descend heavily on those utilising wetlands illegally without the necessary authorisation,” he said. Minister Nhema said it was everyone’s duty to ensure sustainable tourism practices in and around wetlands and sensitise tourists on their value and how they contributed to their health and the long-term benefits that wetlands provided to people, wildlife, the economy and biodiversity.

“Wetlands have given us so much, how shall we return the favours as we gear up for World Wetlands Day celebrations on the 2nd of February?

“We need to take stock of our actions and evaluate if we are not contributing to wetland degradation and degeneration directly or indirectly through activities that result in siltation of water courses and pollution.

“It is my responsibility, your responsibility and our collective responsibility to utilise wetlands in a sustainable manner and protect them from degradation,” he said.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Permanent Secretary, Dr Sylvester Maunganidze, who was representing Minister Walter Mzembi, said there was little tourism to talk about without environment and natural resources.

Dr Maunganidze said the world was coming for the UNWTO next year because of a wetland, Victoria Falls.

“The hosting of UNWTO put Zimbabwe and Zambia on the world market of tourism.

“People who are coming from 186 countries are coming because of Victoria Falls, a wetland.

“Your country has been marketed by a wetland and people must know what UNWTO mean to us,” he said.