RUNDU - There is an urgent need for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) to come up with a timber quota policy to enhance forest management in the country in light of the plunder of timber in the Kavango Region.
The Governor of the Kavango Region, Maurus Nekaro, made this proposal during an interview with New Era last week. The plunder of natural resources has come under the spotlight in recent months, fuelling worries in government circles. Last week the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry temporarily suspended the issuing of forest permits for sawn timber, effective from 1 August 2012 until further notice.
“The ministry needs to conduct a survey to establish how big the forests are and based on the quantity of the natural products, timber quotas can be allocated to potential loggers,” suggested the Kavango Regional Governor.
The system of quota allocations is working quite well for the Ministry of Fisheries said the Governor, adding that he does not see any reason why it should not work in the case of timber and on other forestry resources.
Forests are an important source of revenue for government, and more so for the livelihoods of those living in rural areas, hence the need for effective forest control policies said Nekaro.
“This will help to effectively control and manage our forest products. At this point in time we also do not have any statistics on timber, the region can do with a survey,” he said. Director of Forestry in the MAWF, Joseph Hailwa, acknowledged the proposal on Wednesday adding it is one of the options the ministry will consider.
“We will discuss the issue with all stakeholders to see which option is the most viable in terms of conservation, the economy and the well-being of the communities,” said Hailwa.
“The ministry is taking note of the various proposals, and we are grateful for the input,” he said.
With an escalation in illegal harvesting of natural resources in the country, particularly in the Kavango Region, there are serious doubts about the sustainability of the country’s forestry industry.
Locals have also called on the ministry to implement policies that will ensure that forest products such as timber leave the country as a finished product to boost the country’s revenue and at the same time to create employment.
Some forestry officials have also been blamed for complicity in the illegal harvesting activities on several occasions. Nekaro believes the allocation of timber quotas will enhance accountability and transparency.