Windhoek-Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa has called on all Namibians to commit themselves to reducing deforestation and in the same vein promote sustainable livelihoods for all forest-dependent communities. He said this in recognition of Arbor Day, celebrated every second week of October annually, worldwide.
According to Mutorwa, all citizens must be reminded and sensitised on the importance of planting and conserving trees.
“Globally, Arbor Day provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and trees. It is a day on which individuals and groups are encouraged and motivated to plant trees in October, of each year, in particular,” the minister said.
He added that the importance of trees cannot be over-emphasised. “I would like to remind Namibian citizens to re-dedicate themselves to tree planting, protection and conservation. It must be our collective and individual commitments in Namibia to ensure that all of us will also make use of these valuable indigenous trees and keep the indigenous knowledge for generations to come.”
He stressed that forests are the lungs of our planet and that globally the emphasis is on forests and energy.
He said Arbor Day provides the perfect platform to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests and celebrate the ways in which they sustain and protect us.
“This year we highlight the importance of trees in improving people’s livelihoods, powering sustainable development and mitigating negative effects of climate change.”.
He said that modernising the wood energy sector can help revitalize rural economies and stimulate enterprise development.
Forests cover almost one-third of all land area, and are home to about 80% of terrestrial biodiversity which makes them crucial in addressing a multitude of sustainable development imperatives: from poverty eradication to food security, adapting to climate change to reducing disaster risks, Mutorwa stated.
He said an estimated 1.6 billion people daily depend on forests for food, fuel, biofuel, shelter and income.
“Undoubtedly forestry and forests are uniquely positioned to make major contributions in effectively addressing the problems of environmental degradation and rural poverty, given the multiple roles that trees can play in the provision of food, the generation of income and the maintenance of the natural resource base.”
He said despite serious challenges such as illegal harvesting, the government is striving to protect the natural resource base, but this is not the responsibility of the government alone, “but every Namibian or resident in Namibia has a personal duty and responsibility to do so”.