Amend Wildlife Act to promote transparency and accountability: ZELA

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has implored the government to review the Parks and Wildlife Act in order to enhance the management of wildlife around the country.

In a statement released Wednesday in commemoration of the World Wildlife Day which is also running concurrently with the 2021 Africa Environment Day, the civic organisation noted that there is need to establish a clear legislative and institutional framework based on the need for Environmental Impact Assessments prior to development in protected areas.

This year’s commemorations were held under the theme “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet.”

“The World Wildlife Day puts on spotlight the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystem services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally. As we commemorate it, we must take time to reflect on the importance of a comprehensive legal and policy framework as an instrument towards the realisation of sustainable utilisation and management of natural resources,” the statement read.

“The government must address the relationship between the Parks and Wildlife Act and other legislations in a manner that clearly gives this Act primacy over all other legislation. This will help to establish clear institutional frameworks based on the need for Environmental Impact Assessments prior to development in protected areas such as mining, which can potentially have a bearing on the preservation and protection of the nation’s biodiversity.”

Zela emphasised on the need to delineate and clarify the roles, responsibilities, and business activities of ZimParks in a manner that enhances their obligation to ensure biodiversity protection from mining developments in the areas they manage.

“There is need to review mining laws and regulations, particularly, the Mines and Minerals Act, to ban, control or restrict activities such as prospecting and exploration of minerals in protected areas. Frameworks for stakeholder consultation and public participation must be created to ensure inclusivity in decision-making processes,” the statement read.

“In the wildlife sector, we highlight that lack of transparency and accountability has resulted in serious economic, environmental, social and security costs. Corruption, poaching, Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) are some of the challenges facing the sector. Therefore, in view of these challenges, we note that strengthening of the Forest Amendment Bill and the reform of the Parks and Wildlife Act is key in charting a way forward for wildlife and the environment in Zimbabwe.” 

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