We recently observed Arbour Day, and it is crucial to take a moment and truly appreciate the importance of the day and what it means. But more importantly, let us appreciate this year’s theme: ‘Forest restoration: A path to recovery and wellbeing’. As with many other commemorative themes, one might think it is just another theme for the day and then we forget about it and go on about our lives.
This particular theme is a call to focused action with expected outcomes. Action that should go beyond the comfort of our offices and lecture rooms.
Action that needs to reach the rural areas. Action that should not wait for the next Arbor Day or the next big programme launch; this need to become daily action – embracing action and collective action.
With only about 8% of Namibia covered by forests, it is a no-brainer that these are resources we need to maintain and protect at all costs. We, however, need to recognise that protection is no longer enough. These forest resources and systems have existed for centuries while we have altered our ways of living and our demands have increased. This means the kind of pressure we have exerted on forests can no longer be countered solely through protection.
It is time we engage more active interventions such as tree planting, learning about our forest, supporting institutions that are aimed at conserving forest resources or simply talking about the importance of trees and forests on social media platforms. Restoration needs to become more than a buzzword.
It is time for us to take stock of what we have, understand it and come up with appropriate measures for restoration. These should be measures that fit our environment and climate – and those that can be understood and implemented by everyone. Through this, we can make restoration a recovery path – not only for our forest systems and resources, but we can translate it into cultural integrity, ecological functions, economic emancipation and biodiversity preservation.
We need to come to the realisation that forest restoration presents a legitimate path to recovery and wellbeing, which, in the wake of climate and human-induced disasters, can help us develop a level of resilience to such disasters. However, this is only if we acknowledge and advocate for the fact that we can no longer continue viewing event themes as just that, but to use them as calls to collective action.