National Conference on ‘The Future of Namibia’s Forests – Sustainable Forest Management as Key to Unlock its Potential’

Officail opening Session Ms Gosia Lachut,, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta,., Dr Clemens von Doderer.,Mr Gift Kamupinge ., Mr Lorenz Klein von Wisenberg

On 20 July 2022, the NSFM-Project held its first national conference at Safari Court Hotel and Conference Centre in Windhoek. The conference – officially endorsed by the Parliament of the Republic of Namibia, the Ministry of Environment (MEFT), Forestry and Tourism and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - was aimed at looking at the future of Namibia’s forest in terms of sustainable forest management as the key to unlocking its potential. Various speakers from Namibia, the southern African region and Europe shed light on the events’ topic from different perspectives.

The event was graced by the presence of the Deputy Head of the European Union to Namibia, Ms Gosia Lachut, who did the welcoming remarks on behalf of the Ambassador. The introduction to the conference, objectives, and outputs was done by the Resident Representative of the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Namibia, Dr Clemens von Doderer. He took the opportunity to depicture once more the balance between economic, social and environmental aspects needed to reach sustainability. Moreover, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism (MEFT), gave the keynote speech. He commenced his speech by stating the Namibian Constitution: ‘The State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting policies that are aimed at the maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future’. The Minister emphasised that sustainable forest management is essential to the alleviation of poverty and that it is therefore a subject matter of great importance to all. The opening session was rounded off by a presentation of FAO representatives Mr Gift Kamupinge and Mr Marcelo Rezende on FAO’s contribution towards sustainable forest management as well as a presentation of the German forestry expert Mr Lorenz Klein von Wisenberg on the concept of sustainability in forests at large.

The events’ programme was divided into two content-related sessions which included session keynote speeches, presentations and panel discussions. Session I focused on sustainable development, management and conservation of forests. Ms Albertina Fillipus presented on the status quo of forestry in Namibia, followed by enlightening presentations of certification schemes such as PEFC (Mr Steven Germishuizen) or FSC (Dr Harrison Kojwang) and a presentation by Dr Chris Brown on how to increase forest cover. Session I concluded with a lively panel discussion in which all speakers of the session participated. The question was: ‘What do we need to do to make Namibia’s forests great again?’

The afternoon of the event was dominated by session II which focused on value addition to forest products. Mr David Hopkins informed on what it means to export timber in international markets and Mr Leroy Diocotlhe spoke about the existing timber value chains in Namibia. Furthermore, Mr Chris Brown presented a case study from Ghana on FLEGT certification and Mr Raphael Scriba introduced CO2 certification as tool for additional forest income. As session I, the afternoon session concluded with an interesting panel discussion on ‘I have a dream – using Namibia’s Forests for sustainable development’.

A total of around 160 participants attended the conference from different organisations, ministries, NGOs, media companies, and schools from various regions in Namibia. During the breaks, the participants had the opportunity to visit a little exhibition of forestry related topics. For instance, the posters displayed by some selected community forest members from Kavango and Zambezi showcased how they sustainably manage their forests. Forestry projects from Cimbebasia primary school and NUST students were showcased, and researchers of the Namibian University of Science and Technology presented their recent research.

The conference was closed by Dr Martin Schneider, Director the DRFN, who gave a vote of thanks.

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