19th AFWC session opens

30 Sep 2013 09:40
WINDHOEK, 30 SEP (NAMPA) – The 19th session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) kicked off in the capital on Monday, with a call to governments to put proper measures in place to curb deforestation, illegal logging and poaching.
The five-day conference is taking place under the theme “Development of the forest and wildlife sectors for effective contributions to food security and a green economy in Africa”.
The event coincides with the third African Forestry and Wildlife Week being celebrated this week.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa said the majority of people on the continent depend on natural resources in their raw form.
He, however, expressed concern about the world’s forests, which are dwindling year by year.
“Despite deforestation, illegal logging and poaching activities occurring in our region, much of Africa remains covered with forests and woodlands. It is Africa which is still the richest when it comes to wildlife.
Hence, we still have good reasons to come together to deliberate on our fauna and flora,” said Mutorwa.
He then raised a concern that the wildlife sector, like the forestry sector, still faces many challenges, including poaching and illegal bush or game meat trade, human-wildlife conflict and the lack of a general recognition of the sector as a significant contributor to the national economy. This results in insufficient allocations from State budgets in some cases.
In the same vein, southern Africa has been at the forefront of sustainable wildlife management efforts for decades, with a spectacular recovery of wildlife resources in the sub-region, and numerous programmes and initiatives involving local communities in wildlife management.
Mutorwa thus requested delegates to debate both forestry and wildlife issues and challenges in a balanced manner to ensure that both sectors contribute significantly to food security, poverty alleviation, climate change mitigation and overall socio-economic development at local, national and regional levels.
“We need to ensure that our forest resources are there to help and sustain our people, particularly with regards to food security. It is high time for all of us on this continent to increase our efforts to make our forests more productive so as to create a better environment for game to reproduce more than before,” he added.
The African Forestry Wildlife Commission (AFWC) is one of six Regional Forestry Commissions established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to provide a policy and technical forum for countries to discuss and address forest and wildlife issues on a regional basis.
The conference ends on Friday.