GOVERNMENT has been criticised for its laissez faire environmental policy which has resulted in widespread poaching and deforestation on newly-resettled farms, the Zimbabwe Independent esta
blished this week.
The Zimbabwe Conservation and Development Foundation (ZCDF), a newly-formed non-governmental organisation, said widespread poaching and deforestation on newly-acquired farms threatened the environment.
In an interview with the Independent, ZCDF founder member Dr John Fulton said government’s wildlife policy was not conserving flora or fauna.
The wildlife-based land reform programme is a government document that seeks to declare all conservancies and ranches state land administered by the Department of National Parks.
“We are deeply concerned with the way the environment has been handled in the past few years,” Fulton said. “As a new organisation, our first step is to send environmental recovery proposals to the government with like-minded NGOs and individuals.”
He said the policy document was not treated with the respect it deserved, yet it offered “an opportunity to negotiate with the government over the future of conservancies and other wildlife-producing areas”.
The ZCDF said policy laxity during the land reform had led to an erosion of the gains of the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire) in which rural communities benefited from professional hunters.
The foundation said it was willing to engage the government in formulating serious environmental management structures.
The ZCDF said rampant deforestation and poaching by newly resettled people threatened the existence of conservancies and other wildlife.
“While hunting is traditional, poaching has destroyed wildlife, and government must show its willingness in effectively eradicating poaching,” the NGO said.
It said rural communities would be hard hit.
“The foundation is very concerned about the resulting pressure on the environment that has impacted on the rural communities who largely depend on wildlife and natural resources,” it said.