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Public Discussion: ‘Stop Poaching Namibia’s Forestry Resources’ 2.0

Picture13 Public Discussion

On the 6th of June 2023, the ‘Namibia Sustainable Forest Management’ (NSFM) Project hosted a public discussion at Goethe Institute in Windhoek. The event aimed at discussions focusing on the illegal extraction of Namibia’s forest resources from the KAZA Regions as well as looking at the future of Namibia’s forest in terms of sustainable forest management as the key to unlocking its potential. The event was attended by invited guests from the public and private sector, NGOs, and various institutions as it aimed at sharing knowledge and lessons to discuss the role of forests in sustainable development.

The event was moderated by Mr Ulfried Schwacke. The welcoming remarks were given by the Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Namibia, Mrs Gosia Lachut, who informed the participants on the important role done by both implementing partners, the Hanns Seidel Foundation Namibia (HSF) and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN). She further emphasized that the EU would continue their support in safeguarding Namibia’s natural resources particularly for future generations.

Mr Schwacke together with Dr Martin Schneider, the Director of DRFN, welcomed all guests and introduced all panellists and elaborated on the overall objectives of the project. Panellists invited for that discussion event included Ms Albertina Fillipus from the International University of Management (IUM), Mr Dirk Heinrich, an environmental journalist, Mr John Grobler, an activist and environmental journalist, and Mr Leevi Nanyeni, a botanist. They were requested to make opening statements relating to the events’ subject. Some of the topics that were covered included the law enforcement to combat the illegal extraction of timber resources more efficiently, supporting Government to implement forestry subjects into school curricula to strengthen awareness amongst school children from an early age, and the lack of knowledge relating to endangered and protected plant species by Government officials from various sectors (police, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, customs).

Participants were informed by the experts about the status of timber logging in the KAZA Regions and the importance media can play in sustainable forest management activities. The importance of awareness and information campaigns in schools and local communities with partners and stakeholders was well presented. All participants engaged by asking questions and making contributions relevant to the topic. The panellists shared their diverging view on the future of Namibia’s forest in terms of sustainable forest management as the key to unlocking its potential to the benefit of its communities. Participants agreed that project experiences and the way community engagement and awareness building activities needed to be shared countrywide.

The closing remarks and vote of thanks were given by Dr Schneider. He noted that since 1990 Namibia lost about 25% of its total primary forest area and that Government and private sector initiatives remain important to further sensitize communities and the public about sustainable forest management in the country. He further added that a lot of diverse opinions where shared at today’s event and that partners will continue to do so because also by promoting awareness and exchanging information, the status quo might change.

He also noted that the discussions around government’s intention to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (Eiti), a global standard for promoting transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. By joining this initiative, it is hoped that Government would provide more transparent information about commercial timber harvesting in the KAZA Regions.

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