In Zimbabwe, IAS like Lantana camara, common myna, cactus, crayfish, and black and silver wattle are increasingly expanding their invasion ranges due to the inadequate management and control interventions in affected areas in the country, adversely threatening ecosystem structure, integrity, biodiversity, and associated ecological services. This consequently affects ecosystems’ production capacities and, indirectly, the livelihoods of millions of people depending on forests for food, commodities, energy security and related natural capital.
The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Environment, Climate & Wildlife, Edward Samuriwo, highlighted that Zimbabwe spends USD50 million annually to fight invasive alien plant species. And that “the threat posed by these species to our agriculture, health, biodiversity, and ecosystem services cannot be underestimated.”
Edward Samuriwo spoke at a workshop facilitated by FAO to support Zimbabwe in fulfilling its MEAs obligations on IAS through developing a national programme and action plans to reduce the impacts of these alien organisms.
Representatives from responsible government authorities attended the workshop, the FAO, local universities, and regional/international scientific bodies such as the Centre for Biological Control of Rhodes University – South Africa, and the International Organisation for Biological Control (IOBC), Botswana International University of Science and Technology and the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa.
A call to act
To mitigate the threats of IAS, Edward Samuriwo said that Zimbabwe had recognized the need to implement Article 8 (h) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Target 6 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which calls for Parties to eliminate, minimize, reduce and or mitigate the impacts of invasive alien species on biodiversity and ecosystem services by reducing the rates of introduction and establishment of other known or potentially IAS by at least 50%, by 2030.
Addressing the impact of IAS on agriculture in Zimbabwe requires comprehensive strategies
Edward Samuriwo also added that as a country, Zimbabwe had taken significant strides to mitigate the threats of IAS. “As a country, we have been trying to reduce the impacts of IAS on biodiversity and the economy. We are part of several multilateral environmental agreements. We are revising the Environmental Management Act (2003) and the National Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan (NBSAP).”
“By strengthening our policies, investing in research and education, fostering partnerships, and promoting sustainable practices, we can protect our environment, preserve our agricultural productivity, and ensure the well-being of current and future generations,” added Edward Samuriwo.
Speaking on behalf of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Dumisani Kutywayo, the Chief Director of the Department of Agricultural Research, Innovation & Development in the Ministry, added that, addressing the impact of IAS on agriculture in Zimbabwe requires comprehensive agricultural strategies.
“Addressing the impact of IAS on agriculture in Zimbabwe requires comprehensive strategies. These include early detection and rapid response systems, integrated pest management practices, promoting biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, and raising awareness among farmers about the risks posed by invasive alien species,” added Dr Dumisani Kutywayo.
The government encouraged all stakeholders at the workshop to “join hands and work collectively towards building a resilient and sustainable Zimbabwe where invasive species have no place.”
Speaking on behalf of Patrice Talla, the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, the Deputy FAO Representative in Eswatini, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, Louis Muhigirwa reaffirmed FAO’s commitment to work with other organisations and funding partners to support government initiatives to mitigate IAS.
“FAO is committed to supporting the government of Zimbabwe to introduce measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species,” asserted Louis Muhigirwa.
Stakeholders encouraged the government to include IAS issues in the education curricula from primary to tertiary levels and think about sustainability beyond this project, that is, funding from the government and the private sector is critical to ensure that the fight against IAS continues.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.