Concerns mount over ­hardwood plundering

07 October 2019 | Environment

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta says the ministry is still worried about the commercial harvesting of slow-growing hardwood trees for exporting overseas.

He was speaking at a national conference on sustainable natural resource management in Windhoek last week.

“It is particularly important that we desist from exploiting any of our natural resources for short-term gains, which ignores the future and thereby sacrifices the future generations,” he said.

He said the commercial harvesting of timber benefit only a few individuals in the country and abroad at the expense of the broader population, economy and environment.

“Namibia is not like tropical rainforest countries where you can undertake large-scale commercial timber harvesting.

“The levels of harvesting we have seen in recent years have been inherently unsustainable and we therefore need to ensure that these activities are carefully controlled and regulated.

“Otherwise the future generations will not forgive us as our forest habitats will have disappeared.”

Shifeta reiterated that the ministry is obliged by the constitution and other laws such as Environmental Management Act to protect the Namibian environment on land, in water and in the air.

“And we do so without fear, favour or prejudice.”

He therefore urged Namibians to respect and adhere to the numerous measures put in place to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources including wildlife, fisheries and forest resources.

“Let us comply with measures such as quotas and permits and be accountable. The environment belongs to us all, needs to benefit us all and be protected by us all and, most importantly, bequeath it to the future generations.”

He further said that ecosystems underpin Namibia's economy and human well-being, with about 70% of the population directly relying on them for their livelihood.

A number of recent studies have demonstrated the economic benefits that Namibia derives from biodiversity. It is estimated that approximately N$13 billion in revenue is generated annually from biodiversity, with an estimated 40% of this accounted for by tourism.

“Ecosystem services are of particular importance to the most deprived sections of our society, especially our communities residing in rural areas. They have little or no land, little or no fuel, little or no income, and struggle daily with the burden of poverty,” the minister said.

According to Shifeta there is a natural link between forests and the rural population.

Forest resources can provide building materials, fuel, craft materials and much-needed employment. These resources are also renewable, provided they are used sustainably, he said.

“Our ministry is determined together with line ministries and other key stakeholders to promote a thriving forest sector, utilised to the lasting benefit of the society, and developed and managed to protect and to improve the environment.”

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