Namibia as a country is well endowed with diversity of natural resources, including a variety of wild fauna and flora, diamonds, uranium, lead, copper, zinc, natural gas as well as fisheries.
The aim of this article is to signify and emphasise the relevance of the abundance of fauna that form the Namibian forest. In addition, the article will attempt to highlight the importance of sustainable use and conservation of forestry resources.
In the Namibian context, more rich forests are found in the north eastern part of the country, along the Zambezi and Kavango regions. But that does not mean the rest of the country does not have forest resources even in their scarcity. Most people in their own geographical setups survive from forest resources. Hence, the need for the surmountable support and political will for the utilisation and conservation of these resources.
The good thing is that the Namibian fundamental constitution, speaks about promotion, protection, management and the sustainable utilisation and conservation of all its natural resources. After its enactment, it gave power to the Forestry Act, Act No: 12 of 2012, which has a core mandate of protecting forestry resources. Some scholars defined forestry as “the science and craft of creating, managing, using, conserving and repairing forests, woodlands, and associated resources for human and environmental benefits. Forestry is practised in plantations and natural stands”.
Not only that I rejoin the forestry sector from the agricultural sector - that are in reality - twin sectors, as they anchor most, if not all, their origin on mother nature. Natural forests offer numerous benefits to indigenous communities and society at large. Many communities depend on forests for their survival such as the wood we use, habitat and shelter it provides. Therefore, forest serves as an important source for the livelihood of the people across all diverse sectors.
Communal community forests
Sometimes it looks like the forest plays a greater role in rural communities, which of course is not denied but more so it plays the same in urban set up where all products and by-products from forestry are transported for further processing. In Namibia, through the governance systems, Communal community forests are legally gazetted to surface sustainable use and protection of forestry products by rural communities for now and in future. Hence, the continuous and significance of forests contribute to rural households’ livelihoods and economic well-being.
I always advise that authority and decision-makers ensure that appropriate and supportive involvement in the participatory decision-making process is essential for inclusive and proper understanding and cooperation of the local people. Hence, the successes of comprehensive forest management structures such as community forest and conservancies. Such an approach may promote the multiple forest services for communities.
Importance of forest
One cannot put a number on the importance of forestry. Some cannot be counted and may carry direct and or indirect benefits that have economic, social and environmental potential as well as forest intrinsic value. Potentially, forestry serves as a source of livelihood change to many. In addition, forest provides habitat and shelter, fuel, fodder and ecological services – the air we breathe, mitigate climate change and protect watersheds.
It serves as a source of wild fruits, firewood, charcoal, timber, building and construction materials, fencing materials (poles, droppers), windbreaks, glue to soil erosion and improvement.
Forest is needed for its ability of having varied plants that possess medicinal properties and is acting as a potential source of modern drugs as well as housing plants that provide food. It houses watersheds with different species of fish, frogs and other water living organisms that provide nutrition significance.
If we pollute the air with industries and transport, forest cleanse it for us. Additionally, to its ecological importance, forest influences climate change largely by affecting the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As it grows, carbon is removed from the atmosphere and absorbed in wood, leaves and soil, which then (carbon) remains stored in the forest ecosystem. It is then released into the atmosphere when forests are burned. For those reasons, the importance of forest, forest products cannot be underestimated.
I therefore, wish to stress the paramount importance of joining international and local communities in celebrating and hosting the International day of Forest and the Arbour day. The 2021 International Day of Forests, was celebrated under the theme ‘Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being’ and it seeks to assure that climate change and biodiversity challenges are addressed through the restoration and sustainable management of forests. Such days are vital, hence the support of the political will to be most successful.
-Kazapua is a senior forester at the Gobabis Forestry office. The views expressed in this article are however his own and not those of his employer.