EVERY year, on February 2, we celebrate World Wetlands Day (WWD) to raise awareness
about the high importance of wetlands to people and our planet.
WWD is also an occasion to commemorate the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971.
“Wetland Restoration”, the theme for WWD 2023, highlights the urgent need to prioritise wetlands restoration. Nearly 90 percent of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and we are losing wetlands three times faster than forests.
Yet, wetlands are critically important ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, and freshwater availability. Against this background it becomes crucial that we raise awareness about wetlands in order to reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to conserve and restore them.
Threats to wetlands
Population growth, rapid urbanisation and consumption patterns have put unbearable pressure
on wetlands and the water in them. Nationally, some specific threats to wetland ecosystems
include housing construction on wetlands, cultivation along wetlands, rampant tree cutting along wetlands, direct discharge of raw sewage and other pollutants and introduction of invasive alien species.
Solutions to wetlands depletion?
We could have enough water for nature and us if we stop destroying, polluting, and start restoring wetlands. Efforts should be directed towards sustainable and efficient utilisation of wetlands.
Another equally sensitive issue is on water harvesting or extraction from aquifers without a licence from the responsible authorities which include Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), Environmental Management Authority, local authorities and local leadership.
Integration of water and wetlands management should be integral in all development plans.
2023 WWD venue
This year’s World Wetlands Day commemoration shall be held at Manhize Chikapakapa wetland in Mhondoro Ngezi District.
The unique wetland stretches from Chikapakapa, in Ward 7 to Ward 8 supports agricultural activities and supplies water to a reservoir dammed by a weir. Further downstream there is a stream called Bururu. Manhize Chikapakapa has been flagged as a high impact project for the province with baseline, and training has been conducted.
The wetland is under threat from human activities, which include but is not limited to the camping of religious groups. The local community and leadership believes that the wetland deserves the national project status as it has the potential to become a tourist attraction centre. – New Ziana