Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Developments: a threat to vegetation

In urban areas, construction of infrastructure is prioritized over the conservation of flora. When new buildings or roads are put up, vegetation is usually cleared.

It is rare to come across a development that has been suspended or diverted due to the occurrence of vegetation or for the sake of conservation of vegetation.

The situation is of great concern because it is a threat to some plant species found in urban areas where development is coming up at an alarming rate. It is even scarier because there is no company or institution which is taking the responsibility of doing any vegetation rescuing missions, to save plant species destroyed in the name of development.

The situation is made worse by ever-growing populations while the planet earth is not experiencing any form of growth. The more population growth, the more land needed and the more that vegetation will be cleared. Eradication of vegetation is common even around residential areas, where most people clear all occurring plants from their residential plots, before, during and after building.
In rural areas, agriculture also poses a threat to most plant species, with agronomy and horticulture also contributing to eradication of vegetation, (ironically they are the very aspects which are supposed to provide food to the growing human race).

When big land is acquired to practice agronomy (commonly known as field crop farming), or horticulture, which is the production of vegetables, fruits or aesthetic plants, it results in preparing the land by cutting down or destroying plenty of plants. Some of the plants so destroyed are rare and endangered species. This is a complicated situation as humans need to till the soil to have food and, on the other hand, wild plants must be conserved to prevent extinction.

Very few places around urban areas have been set aside to be fauna and flora conservation sites, which is concerning, as the development rate of new buildings is growing at an alarming rate that highly fast track the destruction of vegetation.

Vegetation conservation should be practically applied at par with the development taking place in both urban and rural areas.

Another threat facing the occurrence of natural vegetation is the introduction of alien invasive plant species, which are mostly introduced to create the aesthetic view of many developed areas, and the introduction of the exotic plants invades the natural vegetation.

In most cases, Environmental Impact Assessment is supposed to be carried out on any particular site before any kind of development can take place, but in reality assessment results can do very little to stop projects from taking place.

If more weight is going to be put on only one side (e.g. development) at the expense of local/natural vegetation, then it will take us onto the fast lane moving towards global warming.
It is vital to introduce a system that insures that in an area that is to be developed, a certain percentage of land is left as intact vegetation or “green belt”, and if that cannot occur, at least a rescue mission can be put in place to save some of the plant species.

In Botswana, like around the world, there are some plant species which are considered to be rare and endangered, while some are said to be extinct. It will be very crucial for relevant institutions to put more pressure on conserving vegetation at veldt, rural and urban areas level, since it is not enough to only rely on forest reserves, national parks and game reserves which also have challenges of vegetation being damaged by veldt fire and overgrazed by wild animals.
There are few areas which practice in-situ vegetation conservation in Gaborone, close to the city center.

One of them, Maru a Pula School, like other schools, has built classrooms and staff houses. The school, however, has wisely left most of the vegetation intact and even introduced more plants in other areas which were disturbed during construction of buildings.

Occurring vegetation is made up of many indigenous plants species, and the environment creates a good habitat for birds and small animals, this is an impressing step taken by the school and it will be wise for other developing areas/sites to follow suit, as the move will save more plant species.

Vegetation conservation does not only save plant species, but it also creates a habitat and food for fauna.

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