© Candice Bate WWF-Zimbabwe
The Life threatening poverty facing so many in Zimbabwe has led to an over dependence on natural resources.
Deforestation in Zimbabwe is reaching a critical level. Between 1990 - 2010 the country lost 30% of its forest cover. The key drivers for this are population growth and poverty; agricultural expansion; and continued reliance on wood fuel. In addition, a combination of factors such as sustained economic decline, restructuring of the agricultural sector and land use changes have threatened livelihoods and the ability of the country to achieve its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets of environmental sustainability and eradication of extreme poverty.

The bulk of the country's population is poor and in the face of economic hardships they have resorted to travelling into protected areas and parks in search of livelihoods - cutting tress for firewood and charcoal, wildlife and timber poaching, clearing forests for farming and other means of resource extraction to support themselves during the hard times. Funds available to the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority for the protection and development of the parks estate has declined from $200 per square km in 1980 to $10 per square km, compared to $1,700 per square km from Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Zimbabwe is faced with frequent droughts, which could become more intense as a result of climate change. There are also signs of reduced water replenishment and intensification of groundwater exploitation that has increasingly become the main source of water supply both to the urban and rural residents.

The global rise in the demand for oil and minerals has increased prospecting and mine development in high biodiversity value areas such as Hwange National Park. A total of 83 perennial river systems have been affected by illegal mineral extraction of gold, diamond and chrome. This has led to deforestation, water pollution and siltation of rivers, destruction of infrastructure and animal and bird habitats, destruction of the landscape and loss of aesthetic beauty of the environment.

 / ©: Candice Bate WWF-Zimbabwe
 / ©: Candice Bate WWF-Zimbabwe
 / ©: Hewitt Chizyuka / WWF SARPO
© Hewitt Chizyuka / WWF SARPO
Approximately 65% of the country’s 12.5 million people live in rural areas. Most of them live on less than $1 per day.
 / ©: WWF-Zimbabwe
 Elephant in Hwange National park in the more arid months of the year are facing increasing stress in finding adequate water sources, often resulting in deaths around watering holes.

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