The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) has ordered Kariba Municipality to demolish all gardens that are located along waterways, the Lake Kariba shore and streambanks to prevent land degradation.
The development comes as EMA is part of a joint operation with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) and the ZRP dubbed “Operation Huni Dzabvepi” aimed at stopping the decimation of forests.
To date, 19 people have been arrested in Kariba with 13 of them being fined $200 for illegal entry into the Zimparks area and the remaining six have been taken to court charged with illegal collection of firewood or cutting of trees.
They are being charged in terms of Part IV of Statutory 7 of 2007, which deals with protection of wetlands, public streams and certain specified lands.
Most of the culprits are residents of Nyamhunga and Mahombekombe who have made gardens near the lake, along waterways and on slopes in the mountainous area.
The gardens are usually reinforced with tree branches from thorny trees. This has been identified as one of the drivers of tree cutting and the order is expected to stop indiscriminate cutting down of trees with indigenous trees such as mopani being targeted.
Resultantly, Kariba Municipality has ordered residents with gardens in the affected areas to remove them with immediate effect.
“The Municipality of Kariba would like to inform Mahombekombe and Nyamhunga residents who have established small gardens in water ways, along streams and steep slopes to them with immediate effect,” said acting town clerk Mr Saratiere Chitenhe.
“The activity may cause siltation of streams and water pollution in the long run as well as extraction of poles from Parks area.”
He said EMA would move to destroy the gardens if residents do not heed the order.
EMA Kariba district environmental officer Mr Charles Satiya said EMA had realised the impact the gardens were having in terms of protecting the environment.
“We have issued an order to Kariba Municipality that they must remove or cause the removal of gardens encroaching waterways with immediate effect and we are happy that the local authority has already taken a step to notify its residents to remove the gardens,” he said.
Mr Satiya expressed concern at the positioning of some of the gardens as they are blocking pathways used by animals to access the lake leading to human and wildlife conflict.