The survival of Lukanga Swamps in Kabwe District of Central Province is under threat following weed invasion that has covered at least 60 percent of the water body, authorities say.
Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Collins Nzovu, said Lukanga Swamp had faced a threat from the invasive species, Salvinia Molesta, negatively impacting biodiversity and local livelihoods.
Nzovu was on a tour of Central and Copperbelt Provinces with a team of officers from the Forestry Department and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) to inspect and monitor Forestry Reserves, illegal mining and mining companies.
He said in 2017, satellite images showed it covering over 60 percent of the swamp.
“People need to be made aware of the importance of protecting forest reserves as they play an important role in protecting the environment from the effects of climate change,” Nzovu said.
He also appealed to the people of Ngabwe District to avoid encroaching on protected forest reserves.
Nzovu said this further led to the indiscriminate cutting of trees as people try to settle in protected areas especially now that Ngabwe had proven to be a good crop and pastoral agriculture area.
“Everyone wants to come to Ngabwe, there’s a scramble for Ngabwe because of good rainfall patterns, fertile soil and rich grazing land. As a result of this migration we have seen the introduction of worrying practices such as charcoal burning, encroachment of forest reserves and indiscriminate cutting down of trees for agriculture purposes,” he said.
He encouraged the locals to form cooperatives in order to benefit from the resources of the land.
ZEMA Principal Inspector Natural Resources, Rodwell Chandipo, said to combat this ecosystem based adaption, the Ministry in collaboration with the agency and other institutions, initiated biological control, alongside efforts by BirdWatch Zambia.
“A host specific weevil called Cyrtobagous salviniae has been introduced to reduce the weed infestation and government plans to expand the areas where the weevil will be introduced,” Chandipo said.
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