End-of-the-year-review: The NSFM-Project in 2021

IMG_2770 Lubuta Community Forest graduation Day

When everyone is preparing for the festive season, it is time to pass the first year of the ‘Promoting Sustainable Forest Management in the Kavango-Zambezi-Region in Namibia’ (NSFM) Project in review. Even though a lot of restrictions were imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSFM-Project completed its first project year with a lot of activities being implemented and various fruitful discussions. Thus, the three-year initiative funded by the European Union (EU) achieved some important milestones on its way in supporting an active, continuous multi-stakeholder dialogue on the implementation of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in Namibia.

The year 2021 started with the new TH!NK Namibia website going online. A new logo was created for the fourth phase of the TH!NK Namibia Campaign and the website got a rework. The TH!NK Namibia Sustainable Forest Management Campaign also started informing the interested public on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages on topics around SFM and the NSFM-Project itself.

On 11 February 2021, the NSFM-Project officially kicked off. In order to minimise the risk of contracting Covid-19, the launch was held as a hybrid event at the House of Democracy in Windhoek; the speakers met physically, and the registered participants joined via Zoom. The Zoom meeting was also live streamed on the Facebook page of TH!NK Namibia to allow interested persons to participate also spontaneously.

Roughly two weeks later, the first panel discussion event was held at the Namibia Scientific Society. This event forms a part of the Projects’ public discussion series held in Windhoek, as well as in Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi Region. For this panel discussion, four experts from different backgrounds met to discuss the question: “What is Sustainable Forest Management?’. Dr Jonathan Kamwi (NUST), Dr Albertina Ndeinoma (UNAM), Mr Joseph Hailwa (Directorate of Forestry: DoF), and Dr Clemens von Doderer (HSF) shed light on this question from the academic, international as well as DoF’s perspective.

In April 2021, the NSFM-Project did its first trip to the Kavango and Zambezi Regions, aiming at introducing the project to the target groups in the regions, namely Community Forests (CFs), regional administrative representatives, regional decision-makers and Traditional Leaders. The NSFM-Project team visited a total of 19 CFs spread all over Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi Region, and received positive feedback on the NSFM-Project itself and its envisaged activities in the three regions. Furthermore, a public discussion was part of this pre-visitation trip. On 08 April 2021, the project hosted a panel discussion on the topic ‘Sustainable Forests Management – Key to Adding Value to Local Development’. The experts panel consisted of Mr Isaak Kaholongo (UNAM), Ms Aina Andreas (NNF) and Mr Ndara Markers (DoF). Thus, the events’ topic was discussed from the academic, non-governmental as well as governmental perspective. Before the panel discussion, the NSFM-Project met with various stakeholders from the regional and traditional authorities of Kavango West and East Region, representatives of the regional farmer unions as well as CF representatives during a key stakeholder consultation event. This consultation event aimed at introducing the project, managing expectations, and learning about daily challenges in forest management. Both events were characterised by lively discussions.

Back in Windhoek, the NSFM-Project organised a further panel discussion event at the Namibia Scientific Society on 11 May 2021. The topic was ‘The Current State of Sustainable Forest Management in Namibia’. The experts of this panel discussion included Mr Joseph Hailwa (DoF), Dr Jonathan Kamwi (NUST) and Mr Adolf Muremi (Kavango East Regional Farmers Union; KERFU) who gave interesting insights on the topic and engaged in an energetic discussion with the numerous participants in the room. Unfortunately, this panel discussion was the last event before the third wave of COVID-19 infections forced the NSFM-Project to put all activities on hold during the winter months. However, the project team took advantage of the quieter times regarding events to work on the educational materials that will be launched at the beginning of 2022.

After the nationwide lockdown, the NSFM-Project commenced its physical events again with a round table discussion event in Rundu on 29 September 2021. The subject was ‘Fencing in Community Forests and Conservancies’, and this event aimed at allowing various stakeholders of the Kavango East Region to openly discuss this burning issue at eye level. Various representatives of the Kavango East Traditional Authorities, the CFs, the Communal Land Board, the Regional Council and the DoF as well as the Ministry of Lands met for this important event.

As of Mid-October, the NSFM-Project commenced with its two-day workshops in CFs in Kavango West, Kavango East as well as Zambezi Region; Mbeyo, Likwaterera, Zilitene and Lubuta were the first CFs that got training on SFM. Also in October, the NSFM-Project hosted a panel discussion event in Katima Mulilo. Before the panel discussion, the project organised a key stakeholder consultation, similar to the event in Rundu for Kavango West and East Regions, aiming at introducing the NSFM-Project to all stakeholders that have not been visited during the pre-visitation trip in April. The main event of that day, the panel discussion, was honoured by the presence of the Honourable Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Hon. Heather Sibungo. The discussions topic was ‘Sustainable Forest Management – Key to Adding Value to Local Development’, and the experts forming the panel included Mr John Niipale (DoF), Ms Kamuhelo Lisao (DoF), Ms Daisy Manungo, a forestry expert, as well as Ms Lourdes Masasa, a local development expert.

The last event of 2021 was a parliamentary public engagement, organised by the NSFM-Project in collaboration with the Parliament of Namibia in November. As the event took place during the Conference of the Parties (COP26) was held in Glasgow, the events ‘Sustainable Forest Management – Forestry as Key Sector’ aimed at equipping the Honourable Members of Parliament with good knowledge on the relationship between forests and climate change. Five experts (Dr Chris Brown, NCE, Dr Vera De Cauwer, NUST, Ms Stefanie Busch, ELNN, Mr Etienne Nagel, Wood-Mizer Africa, and Mr Leroy Diocothle, Mimbo Forest Products) were invited to shed light on the subject at hand from the environmental, academic, legal, economic as well as entrepreneurs’ perspectives.

The parliamentary public engagement was the last activity of the year 2021 which was a tough year in terms of project activity implementation due to restrictions on public gatherings. Nevertheless, the NSFM-Project achieved numerous goals by implementing many activities within the frame of possibilities.

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