Finding a balance between nature conversation and land development can be challenging, especially when implementation of both activities are crucial. The entire existence of the municipality focuses on developing the urban area, at the same time ensuring that nature is conserved. To maintain the balance Matsapha Town Council held a workshop on ‘Harmonizing Urban Development with Nature for a Greener Matsapha’, on the 15th of November 2018, at the Civic Centre.
The overall objective of the workshop was to sensitize the Matsapha community on the importance of urban biodiversity conservation and how the residents and the business community can harness the benefits offered by the surrounding natural environment or the ecosystem services. Beyond sensitizing the public, the platform was to assist with also gathering public inputs on ways to balance the two critical activities.
Urbanization a threat to biodiversity
While human survival is dependent on biodiversity, ecosystem services are degraded or unsustainably managed due to human activities. Urbanization is considered to be one of the major threats to biodiversity. Matsapha, being the industrial hub of Swaziland is increasingly losing its biodiversity, which is a huge threat for Matsapha as it is characterized as a wetland, an important ecosystem.
There are other activities that are not related to the town’s development, however that lead to damaging the environment. One that has been identified as concern for Matsapha is illegal mining of river sand, Near Lusushwana River. This activity benefits the minority, however its repercussions in the long run will impact negatively on the entire population of Matsapha and subsequently the entire nation. While this activity benefits the minority, its repercussions in the long will impact negatively on the entire population of Matsapha and subsequently the entire nation. Mining exacerbates soil erosion which will increase the sediment load in Lusushwana River. This will compromise the integrity of the river hence a decline in water supply and extinction of marine life.
The other common threat experienced in Matsapha is the backfilling of wetlands for purposes of construction of industries. Land use and land cover change is one other driver of biodiversity change in town not leaving out discharge of pollutants into the water bodies from industrial processes. Land clearing leaves the soil susceptible to erosion. Not only that, but it also results in the destruction of habitats for the birds.
Bird life is also threatened by the fireworks that usually mark the end of the year and the beginning of the New Year. Fireworks, while they appear to provide so much fun and entertainment, are also a threat to birdlife. Birds play an important role in our lives. For example, listening to the sounds of birds is good for psychological health.
In conclusion as much as the talk around is centred around development, it is important to also consider nature as human survival is dependent on biodiversity. It is prudent that whatever development is undertaken in our town is done in cognizant with nature in order to ensure continual provision of ecosystem services.