Locals' role significant in community forestry: Nambahu

13 Mar 2017 18:50pm
LIVAYI, 13 MAR (NAMPA) – Community forests create and sustain employment just like conservancies, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Tommy Nambahu has said.
Unlike conservancies where only select residents are members however, community forests offer membership to everyone in the area, giving them members’ rights, he said while speaking in the Kavango East Region’s Ndiyona Constituency on Thursday.
“Community forest management is guided by the principles of sustainable management, not to deplete but to maintain, improving the source base and sharing benefits amongst all local residents,” he said.
Nambahu was speaking at the inauguration of the George Mukoya and Muduva Nyangana conservancy office complexes.
The conservancies, where the community forests are located, are situated about 130 kilometres (km) east of Rundu.
With community forestry, the local community plays a significant role in forest management and land use decision-making.
The deputy minister said it empowers local people to take responsibility and to become actively involved in the management of the forests, thereby increasing the value and benefits derived from these resources for everyone.
He said he was happy to note that communities take their roles seriously.
One example of this is the annual fire management campaign that helps to control forest fires. Before, people would set fires for various reasons such as clearing the fields or during hunting season to drive animals out of the thickets.
It is however done in a more controlled manner now.
Community forest committees also control grazing and natural resource extraction rights in forest areas. The committees issue permits based on annual monitoring and also control grazing in forest areas.
The around 300 members of the said communities mostly depend on subsistence farming.
The conservancies generate income through tourism and concession hunters.
The construction of the offices was financed by German development agency GIZ.
Also speaking at the event was Germany’s Ambassador to Namibia, Christian Schlaga, who said during his many visits to remote communities in Namibia he has gotten to understand the situation of people in these areas.
He mentioned issues such as human-wildlife conflicts and poaching.
“Natural resources are depleted, which could have long term negative effects,” Schlaga said.
He said he was impressed when he learned about the concept of community conservancies which address all conservancy issues in a holistic manner.
Schlaga also commended the idea to introduce tourism to local conservancies as this would add to their income.