Nesia Mhaka and Tertia Makurumidze
GOVERNMENT has challenged stakeholders in the public and private sectors to take part in environmental management and conservation issues to safeguard human lives as well as attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The challenge was made by secretary in the Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Ministry Mr Munesuishe Munodawafa in a speech read on his behalf by the director of policy and research in the ministry, Dr Douglas Runyowa, during a sensitisation workshop of the Invasive Alien Species (Vernonanthura polyanthes) that have been noted in Manicaland Province.
The invasive alien species are plants that cause irreversible ecological changes, major economic damage and significant impact on public health as they destroy indigenous vegetation.
“We support economic development and community empowerment, but this must be done in a more sustainable manner that safeguards the protection of our environment.
“We are mandated through the Environmental Management Act to regulate, monitor and promote sustainable management and the protection of the environment with stakeholder participation.
“This platform serves to help us to sensitise each other and share ideas on how best we can manage our environment with a focus on the Eastern Highlands,” he said.
Mr Munodawafa said the workshop’s main objective was to embrace the need for concerted efforts, actions and commitments in environmental management.
“The citizens should be accorded their rights to clean, safe and healthy environment as enshrined in the Environmental Management Act (Chapter 20:27). This workshop is, therefore, to map way forward in ensuring the protection of the environment and sustainable development.
“Over the years, we have witnessed a sharp increase in the exploitation of natural resources, resulting in a whole lot of environmental challenges like deforestation, veld fires, illegal mining activities, water pollution and illegal waste disposal surfacing,” Mr Munodawafa has said.
He urged environmental stakeholders to fight the challenges faced in Manicaland due to the potentially invasive alien species.
“I do hope that this workshop will help to bring together ideas, and strategies to deal with the environmental challenges we are faced with the Vernonanthura polyanthes plant.
Researches have been conducted and some are ongoing on the Vernonanthura polyanthes plant’s growth habits, establishment in the ecosystem and socio-economic impacts.
Vernonanthura polyanthes is a shrub or small tree, which has become a serious invader of areas in Manicaland such as lower Vumba, Chimanimani and Chipinge up to Honde Valley.
The plant was introduced in as a nectar plant for bees, possibly in the early 1990s in Mozambique.
It is reported to have started emerging in Manicaland Province following Cyclone Eline and has been spreading ever since.