Commemorations of the World Wetlands Day, which are held annually on February 2 to raise global awareness on the importance of wetlands, are set to be overshadowed by the raging coronavirus pandemic.
February 2 also marks the date the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
The Environmental Management Act (Cap 20: 27) defines wetlands as: “Areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including riparian land adjacent to the wetland.”
The Worldwetlands.org site is spearheading this year’s global awareness.
This year’s theme, according to the site, focuses on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss.
There are fears the world is facing a freshwater crisis.
“We are facing a growing freshwater crisis that threatens people and our planet. We use more freshwater than nature can replenish, and we are destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most – Wetlands,” read part of the site awareness campaign material.
Musapindira Mlambo, an environmental researcher and activist, believes “deliberate efforts should be made to raise awareness on the importance of wetlands”, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 health crisis.
In Zimbabwe, the seven sites that have been designated as Ramsar protected wetlands are: Victoria Falls, Driefontein grasslands, Middle Zambezi/Mana Pools, Lake Chivero, Monavale Vlei, Chinhoyi Caves and Cleveland Dam.
Statutory Instrument 380 of 2013 declares 26 wetlands in Harare as protected areas.