Wild Resources in Zimbabwe: the Challenges - the Opportunities

By Thomas Price (July 2002)

Ministère des Affaires Etrangères
Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement
Fond Français pour l'Environnement Mondial


Cover Wild Resources in Zimbabwe: the Challenges - the Opportunities

The Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 focused global attention on threats to the conservation of biological diversity and the environment. Changes in the geographical distribution and numbers of plant and animal species have had dramatic impacts on landscapes and the livelihoods of billions of people. Genetic resources and natural capital are at risk worldwide.

The participants at the Earth Summit called for establishing the right conditions for “sustainable development” and equitable sharing of benefits in order to achieve the conservation of biodiversity. Subsequent progress in protecting these resources has been slight, with serious economic and social consequences. The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 will be an opportunity to renew global commitment to protecting flora and fauna.

Achieving goals of long-term management of biodiversity and natural resources inevitably has political and ethical dimensions. Greater understanding of species biology, the operation of ecosystems, and the requisites for landscape viability have now been complemented by appreciation of the economic, social and cultural processes fundamental to making and implementing policy. Nevertheless, the will to make hard choices among a wide range of options remains a great challenge for public and private leadership, planners and all citizens.

Southern Africa, as elsewhere, is in a process of reassessing priorities and policies to achieve a balance in improving local livelihoods and maintaining natural capital for the future. Local, community- based initiatives that mobilise support from government and civil society have become central to new approaches to sustainable use of renewable natural resources. However, providing support for decisions at the local level still calls for the best information possible and the tools to assess impact. This paper identifies key challenges and describes major opportunities to conserve these resources vital to the future for Zimbabwe and the region.

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