Zimbabwe launches first Biodiversity Economy Report, to help monetise its resources

-Natural Capital Accounting will provide a systematic way to account for the biodiversity losses, officials said.

John Cassim

Tariro Musonza Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife and Olivia Mufute, AWF Country Director during the launch of the Zimbabwe Biodiversity Economy Report in Harare

Harare, Zimbabwe (CZ) – The Zimbabwean government has launched its first Biodiversity Economy Report (ZBE-2023), as a means of identifying economic benefits derived from sustainable use of its biodiversity.

The report has four priority biodiversity sub-sectors namely, bioprospecting and bio trade, fisheries, wildlife, and forestry, as the country looks forward to delivering economic gains that are not recorded in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Upon realising that Zimbabwe is richly endowed with biodiversity that is being lost owing to unsustainable use, the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife with support from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) commissioned a National Biodiversity Study on June 15 2021, to inform a planning framework for natural capital accounting.

“The ZBE Report’s Investment Blueprint highlights opportunities and steps that the Government and stakeholders need to take to realise the potential of the country’s biodiversity heritage.
Indeed, the ZBE Report will play an important role in addressing challenges underpinning biodiversity loss in Zimbabwe and to position biodiversity economy as a key economic sector to invest in,” African Wildlife Foundation – Country Director Olivia Mufute, said during the launch of the report in Harare on Wednesday

The report comes at a time when some countries are starting to recognise the importance of keeping track of natural capital hence the development of a Natural Capital Accounting will provide a systematic way to record the biodiversity losses.

According to the World Bank, this helps with planning for land use and freshwater and marine resources.

-Wildlife subsector

According to the report, Zimbabwe is ranked third on the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index while a third of all foreign tourists visited national parks in 2019.

It was noted national parks generated more attraction-based tourism income per unit area highlighting the importance of non-consumptive tourism in the country’s wildlife sector.

Still in that sector, trophy hunting generated US$ 19. 1 million in 2019 compared to US$ 27. 2 million in 2015. Elephants and buffalo have made the greatest overall contribution to hunting revenues accounting for 74% of trophy fees.

Lion, leopard, and sable are other key species for hunting which remains the dominant source of revenue.

-Fisheries subsector

Zimbabwe’s fishery sector has been increased by manmade lakes and the introduction of more fish species.

In the inshore production is based on 114 endemic and 30 exotic species.

Breams or tilapia account for 37.9% to 56.4% of production from the country’s 12,000 dams that have a combined surface area of 3,910 square kilometers.

Lake Kariba contributes 90% of production owing to open water fish and kapenta type of fishing for artisanal fisheries.

The total value of fish production in 2019 was estimated to be US$ 250 million and has been increasing.

Capture fishery accounts for only US$ 60 million to US$ 80 million between 2012 and 2019.

At least 3,500 fishers and their employees hold fishing permits as of 2021.

-Forestry subsector

State forest areas in Zimbabwe cover around 860 000 ha of which 800 000 ha are in the Western parts of the country.

These forests have several valuable indigenous hardwood timber species.

There are also 108,000 ha of planted or exotic forests which are the dominant source of formally harvested timber for construction and industrial purposes accounting for 93% of timber produced in 2020.

Forests account for 3-4% of Zimbabwe’s GDP and contribute approximately 15,000 jobs.

-Bioprospecting and Bio-trade subsector

Non-timber forest products are a major component of Zimbabwe’s rich biodiversity resources yet little is accounted for in the economic statistics.

They encompass a broad range of goods, ranging from firewood to wild plants and animal food, medicinal plants, thatching grass, various blocks and fiber, and other materials used for handcraft and construction.

Rural populations are highly dependent on these forest products while the majority of households informally trade them.

To date, 94% of rural Zimbabweans, depend on firewood for fuel and 30% or more of households get income from these forest products.

According to the report the value of subsistence harvesting of biodiversity-related resources is often missed in formal economic accounting studies.

Meanwhile, Tariro Musonza Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Wildlife bemoaned the biodiversity loss.
“Zimbabwe has approximately 5,930 vascular plant species, of which 214 are endemic, 670 bird species, 270 mammal species, 156 reptile species, 120 amphibian species, and 141 fish species.
These species are found within and outside protected areas and are under serious threat from climate change and human activities such as deforestation, wildlife crime, illegal harvesting, and trade of wildlife and forest products,” she said.

“For instance, we might say our economy is a US$ 20 billion economy but if we do proper accounting we may find that Zimbabwe’s GDP is worth even more because we have to properly value the vast natural resources that we have,” said Phillip Kuvawoga, Program Director for Landscape Conservation at International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the launch.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top