Namibia: Bushes And Fires a Major Headache

Namibia: Bushes And Fires a Major Headache

17 October 2006

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Namibia — Uncontrolled forest fires and bush encroachmentin Namibia are being perceived as among the major obstacles in planting moretrees in the country.

With over 26 million hectares of the country stillaffected by unwanted bush, bush encroachment thus still remains a majorchallenge.

Steps should therefore be taken to manage this problem andothers like uncontrolled veld fires and desertification in a holistic manner.

This is the view with which the Minister of Agriculture,Water and Forestry Dr Nickey Iyambo commemorated National Arbor Day last Fridaywhen addressing school children of the Augeikhas Primary School in Katutura.

“There must be a way to manage and control the spreadof unwanted bush to make way for grazing lands and to find a suitable way toutilize the wood in an economical manner,” said Dr Iyambo, through a speechread on his behalf by Deputy Director of Agricultural Training, Johanna Andowa.

Besides bush encroachment, the minister also touched onthe growing problem of devastating veld fires.

For many years in the past, fires were mainly experiencedin the north-eastern parts of the country, but this year there has been a sharpshift in fires burning large parts of the Omaheke, Hardap, Omusati, Oshana,Erongo and Kunene regions.

“Already this year, large tracks of grazing land hasbeen lost to fire as well as game and livestock, and more are likely to die ofhunger,” said Andowa.

Calls are therefore being made to all stakeholders likefarmers, youth groups and communities in different areas of the country toorganise themselves with the agriculture ministry for practical training on theprevention and combating of fires in their areas.

Community-based forest management is one of the tools usedto encourage people to take care of their forest resources including treeplanting. This concept is based on the national policy for the Community BasedNatural Resources (CBNRM) approach.

Essentially, the essence of Arbor Day is about plantingtrees. Since last year, the ministry has planted 500 000 trees of which 60percent is the survival rate. Andowa however urged for an increase in thissurvival rate.

Every year a tree species is chosen for planting and thistime around the well-known mopane tree or Colephospermum mopane found in theOmusati Region has been selected.

“This is a multipurpose tree. In some areas such asOmusati, we find the mopane in all the houses for construction, fuel wood,medicine and fodder. Hence the theme is let us plant the multipurpose anddurable mopane,” said Andowa.

Since last year the Ministry has also been involved ingetting more people to take part in the tree-planting process as a way ofsustaining their environment.

At the end of the event 15 trees were planted at theAugeikhas Primary School in Katutura.

Generally the significance of Arbor Day held every year isthat it is a day dedicated for tree planting by the people for the benefit ofthe entire nation.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in 1872 in the UnitedStates of America and on that day one million trees were planted.

In Namibia, the day is celebrated on the second Friday ofOctober each year.


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