THE following is an interview with the Director of Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Joseph Hailwa, on Government’s strategy for the forestry sector.
What is Government’s Forestry Strategic plan all about? HAILWA: The aim of this Strategic Plan is to streamline, in accordance with the Vision 2030, our forestry operations in such a way that we sustainably develop and utilise our forest resources for the economic benefit of the country.
It makes provisions for our citizens to generate income through forestry-based projects while at the same time preserving the environmental functions of our forest resources.
It must be noted that the uncontrolled use of our forest resources simultaneously leads to the depletion of the forests environmental functions.
Therefore, while we strive to use our forest resources to derive financial gain, we must at the same time realise that our forestry sector is primarily an “environmental service sector”, and hence strive to conserve the forest resources for environmental protection for the benefit of both our present and future generations.
What are the main hindrances in its implementation? HAILWA: As we strive for sustainable management, one problem is the lack of data on the status and dynamics of our forest resources that we need to develop appropriate management plans.
We are also confronted with a high level of illegal activities that are difficult to control given our limited capacity in terms of transport and personnel.
Last but not least we are still very much concerned about widespread annual wild fires in many parts of our country that pose a threat no only to our natural environment but also to human life.
Especially with regard to illegal activities and wild fires we therefore very much depend on the co-operation and assistance of our partners and stakeholders.
What has been achieved so far? HAILWA: With the countrywide support of 42 community forest areas we involve local communities in forest management who we count on to contribute to the protection and proper use of forest resources for their own benefits.
At the same time, the community forest programme has become an important component for community-based wildlife and tourism management in conservancies as it helps to safeguard attractive landscapes and habitats.
With our regional tree nurseries we are able to provide various indigenous and exotic tree species to interested individuals and institutions.
And with our involvement in the development of new fire management techniques such as controlled patch and strip burning we hope to be able to counter wild fires more effectively and less costly.
What can people contribute to it? HAILWA: The protection and sustainable use of our forest resources should be in the interest of every Namibian citizen as natural vegetation not only provides a livelihood basis for rural people but also protects soils and water sources that we all depend on.
As habitat and landscape features forests attract both wildlife and tourists and therefore play an important role in the protection of biodiversity and the development of the tourism sector.
Therefore, everybody should help us to raise awareness, use resources wisely, report illegal activities and participate in tree planting and fire management activities.