Land Problems Zimbabwe is facing
Land exploitation by humans leads to the degradation of the land’s overall health, utility, biodiversity, and soil fertility. Land degradation has become one of the world’s most critical environmental problems because of its adverse impact on the environment, agricultural productivity, and food security. Ensuring food security for the growing Zimbabwean population requires healthy land resources and thriving ecosystems. Land Degradation mostly manifests as soil erosion and gully formation. In Zimbabwe, it mostly affects community livelihoods, particularly in communal areas. This is mainly due to improper land management practices such as stream bank cultivation, high deforestation rates, and veld fires. In general, Zimbabwe is particularly prone to land degradation because of the semi-arid nature of the climate, easily erodible soils and the geology of the country has large areas consisting of plateaus and mountains.
Soil Erosion & Gully Rehabilitation
The major erosion agent is surface water runoff, therefore most soil is washed away during the rainy season into dams and rivers. This coincides with the period when farmers disturb the soil most during tillage and weed control which shows that human activities are the main drivers of soil land degradation. Zimbabwean farmers accelerate the rate of erosion due to poor land husbandry or poor farming among many other human activities. Some activities include:
- Cultivation on steep slopes without adequate conservation works such as contours, vetiver grass and other plants
- Poor contour construction
- Overstocking or overgrazing which lead to, too many hooved animals trampling thus loosening the top soil and destroying vegetation cover.
- Stream bank cultivation
- Unstable mineral mining and soil excavations
- Veld Fires
Sand and clay mining are part of the major drivers of land degradation in zimbabwe’s urban, semi-urban, and rural service centers due to construction activities. Most sand and clay miners do so from undesignated points/ sites and in addition, do not rehabilitate the land afterward. The abandoned sites are characterized by severe land degradation with huge open pits which are a death trap to human and animal life.
How Sand and Clay Mining Impacts The Land
It is a direct cause of soil erosion
Causes turbidity (muddy ) in water thus affecting fish breeding and other aquatic life.
Massive deforestation for brick molding, fencing, firewood, and other domestic uses
Abandoned pits are life threatening to humans and animals
Destruction of agricultural land threatens food security for communities.
Illegal Mineral Panning & illegal alluvial Mining
In 2021, EMA conducted a survey that showed that a total of 11 163ha of land and a stretch of 1 555 km of riverine ecosystems have been degraded countrywide. This is all due to illegal mineral panning. Panned rivers are polluted and full of silt instead of water which reduces the quality of water. In the process, ravine diversity is destroyed and human health including aquatic life is affected by the polluted water.
Did you know Once mercury gets into your water, rivers, soils, wells, or air it cannot be removed? There are no methods of cleaning up mercury from the environment. Mercury used by illegal miners is very hazardous affecting both the well-being of the environment and the public.