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EMA Develops Wetland Management Guidelines and Policy


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EMA Develops Wetland Management Guidelines and Policy

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Zimbabwe is endowed with various natural resources including wetlands, forests, woodlands, mountain ecosystems among others. Wetlands cover 3% (11 717.4 km2) of Zimbabwe’s surface area. According to the Zimbabwe National Wetlands Masterplan developed earlier this year, by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology; 17.63% of the wetlands are in a pristine condition, 55.65% moderately degraded and 26.72% severely degraded. The management of wetlands is becoming critical especially in the face of increasing impacts of climate change.

Besides climate change, these wetlands, are being threatened by unsustainable anthropogenic activities which include; infrastructural development, agriculture, drainage, invasive alien species, deforestation, mineral extraction, solid and liquid waste disposal, freshwater diversion as well as climate change.

Taking cognisance of these threats to wetlands, the resultant degradation and the impacts such as water shortages, flooding, reduced water quality and wetland species extinction, the Agency realized the urgent need to interrogate more ambitious policies to halt and reverse wetland loss and restore ecosystem services.

The National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) clearly stipulates the sustainable management of wetlands as one of the major objectives for the environment sector in order to avert depletion of the natural resource base and environmental degradation.

This realisation led to the need to urgently address challenges affecting this sensitive ecosystem so as to avoid major environmental disasters now and in the future through robust initiatives such as policy formulation, among other strategies. 

As such, the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) produced the National Wetland Management Policy and Guidelines to direct the national trajectory on wetlands management.


The purpose of the wetland management guidelines is to provide information for the sustainable management of wetlands in the country. Moreover, they aim to assist the making of ecologically sound development decisions which pay greater attention to wetland conservation as well as protecting the populace against natural disasters such as flooding, a service which is offered by wetland ecosystems.


The guidelines are hinged on the principle of sustainability with a view to instil a shared vision among stakeholders and the general populace on integrated planning and management of wetlands for the benefit of present and future generations. 


The development process was spearheaded by Centre for Applied Social Sciences (CASS) working with a team of 16 experts across various fields namely; Social Science, Ecology, Hydrology, Civil Engineering, Geographical Information System (GIS) and Land Use planning. 


On the other hand, the Wetlands Policy is anchored on five pillars in order to effectively guide the nation into sustainable wetland management in the country. The pillars are; Wetland identification; Wetland management; Wetlands utilisation/deriving value from wetlands; International obligations taken from the Ramsar Convention and Cross cutting Issues such as climate change, gender, vulnerable groups and persons who are differently abled.

The policy sets out the strategic direction and guiding principles for the protection wetlands in the country and is a bold, robust and forward looking framework for the protection of wetlands as critical ecosystems so that they continue providing ecological goods and services for the greater good of our communities as well as the environment. 

Moreover, the policy provides a framework of actions to improve institutional and organizational arrangements and coordination, legislative and policy review as well as research to inform science, engineering and technology on the wise use and restoration of wetlands.  

Likewise, it seeks to increase knowledge and awareness on wetlands value, review their status, and identify priorities for wetlands management in a national context, with a view to address problems facing our wetlands and our communities. 

The two policy documents are meant to guide wetlands management to ensure its incorporation in development planning by the Government, private sector, development partners, traditional leaders, communities and individuals. It is envisaged that the implementation or adherence to these policy documents will assist in the conservation of wetlands to support ecosystem and human wellbeing.