Protecting sites

Published: Sunday 15 June 1997

ZAMBEZI societr,'a local NGO, is administering a pilot research project to find ways of conserving sites in the Zambezi basin which are under threat and are not protected within the national parks estate. The society's partners in the project include Biodiversity Foundation for Africa, who will identify the vulnerable sites and find ways of conserving their bio-diversity by enlisting help from local communities.

The first phase of the research project has identified over 80 sites of botanical interest, 30 of which were identified by a study undertaken by the National Herbarium in 1991. Among them, 10 are considered to be of national conservation importance. These sites were chosen for their rarity, high plant species diversity, wide variety of habitats and relatively unspoilt condition.

Several important sites such as the 'sidaga' grasslands in the Gokwe communal land in western Zimbabwe, are fast disappearing due to increasing settlements and cultivation. The sites also have plant species that have been seldom recorded elsewhere. So are the Dande communal land northeast of Zimbabwe which are inhabited by the nyala antelope and the rare red squirrel.

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