Timber harvesting ban to be lifted this month

12 Jun 2013 07:50
RUNDU, 12 JUN (NAMPA) - The ban on the harvesting of timber which was instituted in the Kavango Region in August last year is expected to be lifted sometime this month.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry banned the transportation and harvesting of timber on communal land and in community forestry areas last year after increasing cases of illegal timber harvesting were detected in the region.
After the ban came into power, community forestry authorities were prevented from issuing timber harvesting permits, and no one was allowed to harvest timber for commercial purposes.
The Chief Forester for the north-eastern regions within the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Michael Otsub told Nampa on Wednesday that the ministry is busy working on the logistics for the lifting of the timber harvesting ban.
Since the ban came into power, the forestry directorate has rearranged its community forestry management committees and joint operating strategies.
The directorate will now intensify its law-enforcement strategies, as well as set up patrols and roadblocks in community forestry areas such as Okatope, Mururani, Divundu, Mashare, Ncamagoro, Mbeyo and Ncumcara.
The directorate of forestry will also strengthen joint operations with law-enforcement agencies such as the police and with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
Otsub earlier said traditional authority leaders have also come on board to monitor and report any cases of illegal timber harvesting in their respective areas.
In April this year, Otsub said since the practice was banned, some Namibians opted to partner with Angolans who have concessions to harvest timber in that country, but was quick to point out that those harvesting timber in Angola are being ?closely monitored?.
The ban was partly effected after the Mbunza Traditional Authority made a breakthrough in an illegal timber harvesting campaign in August last year, when they unearthed large consignments of forest produce allegedly illegally harvested in the Mbunza communal area.
Six-hundred poles and 90 planks were confiscated at the villages of Mile 20, Mile 30, Mbeyo and Epingiro within the Mbunza Authority. All four villages are situated south of Rundu.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry then decided to ban the illegal harvesting of timber because the practice was on the increase in the region, as trucks en route to Oshikango in the Ohangwena Region were spotted transporting planks frequently.
The forest products were in the past displayed and sold along the Trans-Caprivi Highway at a cost of N.dollars 10 per pole, while most of the illegally-harvested timber was sold and exported to places such as Oshikango, South Africa and the Calai village in Angola, where it is then sold at exorbitant prices.
Some of the trees, from which members of the community gathered wild fruit, have been depleted due to the illegal timber harvesting.