Project launched to protect forests

15 February 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



A project has been launched to protect Namibia's forests in the Kavango and Zambezi regions by combatting deforestation and illegal logging.

European Union (EU) ambassador to Namibia, Sinikka Antila, who spoke at the launch of the 'Promoting Sustainable Forest Management in the Kavango-Zambezi-Region in Namibia' project, said the project is funded by the EU and aims to facilitate an active, multi-stakeholder dialogue on the concept of sustainable forest management to improve its implementation on the ground in the affected regions. The EU has committed 506 432 euros (N$8.9 million) towards enabling awareness-raising and the sensitisation of stakeholders on sustainable forest management in Namibia.

This project is part of the larger Enhancing Participatory Democracy in Namibia programme, with the overall objective of contributing to the achievement of national development goals for education, skills and rural development. It also aims to further support the efforts of government in addressing the unsustainable use of timber resources and uncontrolled deforestation.



Combatting accelerated

deforestation

Antila said this project idea emerged through the need to combat accelerated deforestation through the illegal and unsustainable harvest of timber resources in Kavango and Zambezi.

“We may all remember the media reports about the cutting down and export of unprocessed timber from precious trees that have been growing there for decades, if not centuries.”

She said these practices, if left to continue uncontrolled, will result in a massive loss of biodiversity, damaging the livelihoods of local communities, the economy and the environment massively.

According to her, Namibia has well-articulated forest laws and regulations as contained in the Forest Act.

Effective implementation of these should thus ensure fast action, putting an end to unlawful practices, which otherwise will have undone all the good work achieved through community-based natural resource management, she said.



Crucial time

“This project also comes at a crucial time when the country - after experiencing the worst drought in 90 years and going through an economic recession - was hit even harder by the outbreak of the global Covid-19 pandemic last year.”

Antila pointed out that many people lost their jobs, while most companies have been driven to the edge of their existence.

“One of Namibia's strongest sectors – the tourism industry – which heavily depends on community-based natural resource management activities, is still battling with the impact of the pandemic; and thus safeguarding natural resources can play a big role in facilitating the recovery of the tourism sectors.

“We hope that the implementation of the project will yield tangible results. In particular, assisting the affected communities to manage their resources sustainably and, therefore, improving their livelihoods in the long-term,” she said.

The Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia have joined the project to assist government in its efforts to protect forestry resources while ensuring sustainable use for the benefit of Namibian people.

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