Meeting immediate need vs conservation
Saturday, 26 March 2011 19:41
By chipo masara
IN today’s world where people are generally willing to do just about
anything for riches, most would go to the most outrageous lengths to
This has inevitably led to the world now seeing the worst cases of
environmental degradation as man makes maximum use of resources without much
thought about environmental implications.
Economists have for years attempted to convince the public that the end
justifies the means as they fast destroy the little we have left of the
This is especially so in the developing world where the natural environment
is being devastated in attempts to find short-term economic gains, with
Zimbabwe most certainly not an exception.
There is a clear conflict between resource utilisation and economic
Last week, we discussed how the mining industry in Zimbabwe, in spite of
undoubtedly being an industry capable of seeing the country economically
getting back on its feet, is currently causing unprecedented harm to the
Unfortunately, it is far from being the only culprit.
The agricultural sector has done its share of harm, mostly owing to the fact
that the majority of the “new farmers” who were allocated farms under the
land reform programme evidently have very little, if any, clue on
conservative methods of farming.
Because they have had little or no education on safe farming practices, the
farmers tend to take very little responsibility for the long-term health of
the land they cultivate, something that has resulted in great land
degradation, making it less and less productive by the day.
Under the guise of clearing the land to expand their agricultural
activities, the “new” farmers have wiped the country of the trees that once
nicely enveloped the farming areas.
Besides using the wood from the cut trees to supplement the erratic power
supplies, some of the small-scale farmers have taken to selling them as
firewood on the highways along their farming areas.
The manufacturing industry is also doing little to preserve the environment
and studies show Harare to have been rated the worst city in the world.
The variables that were used in the rating included, among many others, the
following: cleanliness, destruction of water bodies and river encroachment
by the land grabbers, population and the lack of sufficient open space to be
used as parks and children’s playgrounds.
Isn’t it about time that more and indeed all players in the country’s
industry take up the challenge to integrate social and environmental
concerns in all their business activities?
Although the primary objective of any business venture is to make profits,
it is necessary that we look at our operations holistically and ask
ourselves whether the total value of our enterprises can ever equate with
the environment’s value to all of us.
When South Asia was devastated by a Tsunami in 2004, anecdotal evidence
showed that the mangrove forests that had once existed, but had long
depleted, would have protected the region.
The destruction of the forests that had been converted into farms, urban and
resort areas was seen to have massively contributed to human losses in the
natural disaster, worth billions of dollars and lives.
Is it not just unfortunate how human activity is generally driven with
economies in mind without the slightest concern for the environment and the
devastating results thereafter?
Increasing production without consideration for the environment and the
capacity of the natural resources would inevitably lead to worsened
environmental deterioration and reduced production in future.
There is need to put the future generations into consideration and think
about the type of environment we would want them to inherit.
It would be in the best interest of the economy to protect the environment
that is operated in because the two (economy and environment) are closely
interrelated and inseperable. Government should seriously consider providing
incentives for environmentally-friendly planning so that benefits can be
long-term and sustainable.