Zim Scales-Up Efforts To Control Invasive Alien Species

Zimbabwe will soon be reviewing its National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) expected to be giving prominence to the management of Invasive Alien Species.

By Kuda Pembere

In a speech read on his behalf, Permanent secretary in the Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Ministry Ambassador Tayerera Faranisi said they are about to commence the revision of NBSAPs.  He said they are behind in their schedule for producing an NBSAP.

Colleagues, this is an important topic for us as Ministry of Environment. Just to highlight for you, we are discussing action plans for invasive species, and we are about to start a process to revise our NBSAPS and certainly and certainly this is a cut and paste for me,” he said.

“Secondly, we are also revising our EI Act and I can assure you the Bill is at an advanced stage, and we have given Invasive Alien Species take centre stage in that revision. We have also revised the Wildlife Policy and also the Parks and Wildlife Act. Again, we did give prominence to the Invasive Alien Species. We are very behind in producing our NBSAP but this is another chapter already done.”

He added that despite resource constraints, the Environmental Management Agency has personnel at border posts to prevent the entry of new IAS in the country.

“However, ladies and gentlemen, the threats posed by IAS still remain as the status and potential impacts of most alien species in the country are still to be assessed. There is need to quantify the extent of invasiveness of other alien species through systematic studies and ecological niche modelling, to determine their environmental, ecological, social and economic effects, and then, if necessary, formulate a policy and action plan to combat the spread of potential IAS,” said the Permanent secretary.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr John Bhasera said it is crucial to establish comprehensive and integrated programs to prevent the introduction of invasive alien species into the country.

“This includes strengthening our border control measures to effectively monitor and detect potential invasive species present in imported goods, such as seeds, plants, and agricultural machinery. Strict regulations and enforcement must be implemented to ensure compliance and prevent accidental introductions.

“Secondly, we must invest in research and scientific studies to enhance our understanding of invasive species prevalent in our region. By identifying the species that pose the greatest risk and studying their habits, reproduction patterns, and preferred habitats, we can develop targeted and effective strategies to manage and control their populations,” he said.

Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Patrice Talla said they are committed to helping Zimbabwe and other SADC countries in developing their national biodiversity strategies.

“FAO is ready to throw its weight behind supporting Zimbabwe and all the other Southern African countries to develop their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans and reduce biodiversity loss and degradation of its associated ecosystems,” he said.

He also said procedures involving species that show invasive behaviour should also follow FAO codes of practice.

“FAO requires that under no circumstances will new invasive alien species be introduced into a new environment unless it is subjected to a risk assessment to determine potential risks as reflected by the Guiding Principles for the Prevention, Introduction and Mitigation of Impacts of Alien Species that Threaten Ecosystems, Habitats or Species, as per the CBD Decision VI/2.

“Procedures involving species that show invasive behaviour should also follow FAO codes of practice and information sources for the responsible use and control of such introduced species whenever they exist. FAO programmes and projects will ensure the implementation of measures to avoid potential accidental or unintended introductions, including transporting substrates and vectors (such as soil, ballast, and plant materials) that may harbor invasive alien species,” he said.

Experts from Rhodes University in South Africa stated that using biological control agents to mitigate invasive alien species is cost-efficient with the potential of saving the country millions in United States Dollars.

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