Human activities worry Vic Falls environmentalists
Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter SOME environmentalists in Victoria Falls have called for the adoption of an integrated development plan in the country’s prime resort town to protect the environment from human activities.
Speaking during a meeting with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment and Tourism held in Victoria Falls on Friday, environmentalists concurred that the absence of a master plan has a negative impact on the natural habitat which will eventually affect tourism.
They called for a halt in development of landfill sites in the resort town as this pollutes the environment. Chairperson of the Victoria Falls Enviro-Watch Mr Tony Peel warned that the natural habitat faces serious negative effects if human activities are not handled properly.
“The meeting was a massive success. We were not sure if the committee would listen to us but they were receptive and I think going forwards there will be mutual benefits. As organisations we are pro-development of Victoria Falls which is key to Zimbabwe’s future. Up to now the environment has not suffered significantly but if not handled correctly going forwards it can be negatively affected,” he said.
Victoria Falls is a world heritage site situated within the game park and is one of natural wonders monitored by the United Nations through Unesco.
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee Mrs Concilia Chinanzvavana said an integrated master plan is inevitable.
“We were invited by stakeholders to interface and share ideas to see what impacts the area as a heritage site. A lot needs to be done and some policies need improvement. Key among this is the need for an integrated development plan because the absence of a master plan is a threat to the environment as we may be encroaching onto what we are supposed to be protecting,” said Mrs Chinanzvavana.
She said while industrial growth is key, people need to be mindful of its impact.
She called for dialogue among all stakeholders.
Contributing during the meeting earlier, stakeholders called for recycling projects, the need to plant indigenous plants and dealing with invasive species such as lantana which has populated the Rainforest and gorges along the Zambezi River.
They also raised the need to control the movement of haulage trucks which they said are a threat to tourism as they damage the environment.
The environmentalists expressed concern at the rate at which wild animals are reportedly being killed by vehicles along the main roads especially the Victoria Falls-Kazungula highway and called for widening of the road and introduction of speed traps to control speeding.
They called for speedy completion of a one-stop bridge across the Zambezi River in Kazungula saying this will reduce the impact of haulage trucks in Victoria Falls.
The stakeholders said there are numerous success stories in Victoria Falls as a result of joint efforts by different stakeholders.
The tourism Special Economic Zone (SEZ) town of Victoria Falls last year said it has a five-year development plan which, however, requires about $75 million to implement.
Victoria Falls Municipality and Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC last year agreed to integrate developmental programmes to promote tourism in their five-year strategic plans.
The two had not been working in concert despite being in the same tourism district where the mighty Victoria Falls, Hwange, Chamabondo and Zambezi National are located.