Major Environmental Issues Facing Zimbabwe

Topics: Environment, Environmentalism, Natural environment Pages: 5 (1763 words) Published: November 3, 2008
Major Environmental Issues facing Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is the second most industrialized country in SADC, after South Africa. Industries are concentrated around Harare, with ore smelters located close to the ore sources (principally along the Great Dyke). A combination of vehicle emissions, dust and smoke from domestic fires is a potential air quality concern in larger cities such as Harare. Water is not generally abundant, and the maintenance of water quality is a serious issue. Biodiversity preservation

Zimbabwe has a rich biotic heritage and is highly dependent on tourism. It has a long history of biodiversity preservation, through the national parks, forest reserves and innovative community-based sustainable-use schemes such as CAMPFIRE. Nevertheless, the natural resources are under pressure from a growing population with limited economic alternatives. Land quality

Zimbabwe has the greatest fraction of its land area in good quality agricultural land. The economy of Zimbabwe has a large agricultural component, and the majority of people are dependent on the land. The distribution of people and productive agricultural resources is uneven, leading to problems of land degradation where large numbers of people and livestock are concentrated on marginal lands. Freshwater resources

The Zambezi River in the north is one of the largest rivers in Africa, but does not currently supply water to the rest of the country, which is water-scarce in most parts. The geology is generally not conducive to large groundwater supplies. Climate change

Like the rest of southern Africa, Zimbabwe is strongly influenced by fluctuations in rainfall. An improvement in the water balance as a result of climate change would be a great benefit; increase water stress, on the other hand, would be a substantial development challenge. Zimbabwe environmental problems like erosion of its agricultural lands and deforestation. By 1992, deforestation was progressing at the rate of 70,000–100,000 ha per year, or about 1.5% of the nation's forestland. The confinement of large segments of the population to relatively unproductive lands before independence put severe pressure on these lands, a substantial portion of which may have been irreversibly damaged. Zimbabwe's air is polluted by vehicle and industrial emissions, while water pollution results from mining and the use of fertilizers. Zimbabwe's cities produce 0.5 million tons of solid waste per year and a good amount ends up in the rivers. The nation has been estimated to have the highest DDT concentrations in the world in its agricultural produce. In 2001, nine of the nation's mammal species and nine bird species were endangered, as well as 73 types of plants. Zimbabwe has about half of the world's population of black rhinoceroses, an endangered species. Rare or threatened species include the cape vulture, black-cheeked lovebird, and brown hyena. For protection, the government has adopted a policy of shooting poachers on sight. Africa's freshwater supply is almost stretched to its limit. Less than 10% of Africa’s rainfall is available as surface water, one of the lowest conversion ratios in the world. The country’s groundwater resources are equally limited. Despite regulations of river waters, in many catchments the need for water exceeds the supply and quality is often below standards. Given the projected growth in population and economic development, Africa faces tough times in meeting water demands in the decades ahead. The shortfall in freshwater is tied to growing demands, but also to other issues such as loss of natural habitat and potentially climate change. Destruction of natural habitats the land of the "fine-leaved plants", is one of the world’s most impressive botanical kingdoms - a mind-boggling variety of plants that is richer than any other comparable sized area in Africa. An estimated 8,500 species of vascular plants, of which 70% are endemic, are reported here. But because the...
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