New timber harvesting still banned

11 August 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

While the forest ministry will with immediate effect resume the issuing of transport permits for already harvested timber destined for the local market, new timber harvesting activities are still not permitted.

This was announced last week by forestry minister Pohamba Shifeta.

He stressed that no export permits will be issued for unprocessed or semi-processed timber.

Shifeta said this is to ensure full compliance with Forest Act regulations, which prohibit the export of forest produce unless authorised by the forestry directorate for special purposes such as research and education, and cultural or disease identification.

Shifeta said until the ministry is satisfied that harvested timber is dealt with in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations, new timber harvesting activities will remain prohibited.

Sustainable utilisation

“These conditions are aimed at promoting the sustainable utilisation of our timber and forest resources, as well as stimulating lasting and sustainable economic growth and employment creation in the country.”

Shifeta said over the past few years, many members of the public have expressed genuine concern over the harvesting and utilisation of hardwood timber resources.

Accordingly, the ministry has emphasised the need for all harvesting activities to be undertaken in compliance with the existing legislative requirements, in particular the Environmental Management Act and Forest Act.

“As a result, the environmental commissioner has not issued any clearance certificates for the harvesting of timber, while the forestry directory earlier this year halted the issuance of transport and timber harvesting licenses.”

Benefitting all Namibians

Shifeta said the main reason for these interventions were to ensure that timber resources, which are scarce in Namibia, are utilised on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians.

“We believe that through value addition, we will be able to promote the local timber industry and enhance its growth to contribute to lasting economic growth and development.”

Shifeta added that the harvesting of forest produce in Namibia must directly support the national objectives of poverty reduction, employment creation, economic empowerment and enhancing environmental and ecological sustainability.

“We call upon possible investors to take up opportunities in wood processing to feed the local market. I am further directing and calling on those with already existing arrangements to export timber to first ensure that this timber is processed. Otherwise, an export permit will not be issued.”

Buy local

Shifeta said the ministry further encourages Namibian timber processors to buy locally produced timber, instead of importing timber from other countries, in order to grow the industry and to create jobs and economic opportunities for the country.

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