THE United Nations has warned that plans by the governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia for the development of a golf course, lodges and a hydroelectric dam near the Victoria Falls will put the renowned tourist destination at risk of losing its Unesco World Heritage Site status.
Unesco says the over-development of Victoria Falls and Livingstone is ruining the environment and disrupting wildlife corridors. On the Zambian side, construction of the 300-bed Radisson Blu Mosi-oa-Tunya Resort is nearing completion. Unesco says the building works must stop.
On the Zimbabwean side, there are reports of ambitious plans to build luxury lodges on Zambezi River islands upstream of the falls. Environmentalists warn that the islands are ecologically delicate and should not be tampered with if the environment is to retain its natural state.
Unesco has also raised concern over plans by Zambia and Zimbabwe to jointly develop the US$4 billion Batoka Gorge hydro-electric scheme downstream of the falls. The Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall, was granted Unesco World Heritage Site status in 1989.-STAFF WRITER