Panel Discussion on Sustainable Forest Resource Management in Katima Mulilo
Zambezi Regions' second Panel Discussion was organised under the topic ‘How to Integrate Local Communities as Equal Partners in Sustainable Forest Resource Management?’ on 17 February 2022. This event is a component of a larger series of public discussions around the topic of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM). The public discussion series takes place in the Zambezi and Kavango regions as well as in Windhoek and is an integral part of the NSFM-Project funded by the European Union.
After the anthems and prayer, the event commenced with the welcoming remarks provided by Zambezi Governor Hon. Lawrence Sampofu: ‘I hope that this meeting contributes to reverse forest lost in Namibia.’ The moderator Mr Cletius Mubita guided the participants through the programme, and he translated all key messages which were of utmost importance especially for the elderly to follow the discussion. A brief introduction and the objectives of the event were given by the NSFM-Project Manager Dr Lara Beer. Afterwards, the Panel Discussion commenced with allowing each panellist to explain their position on the discussions question. The ladies driven panel included Ms Lourdes Masasa, a local development expert, Ms Vivian Tabo, Directorate of Forestry (DoF), Ms Natalia Heita, Environmental Lawyers Network of Namibia (ELNN), and Ms Maria Shipapo, MIST Agricultural Laboratory.
Ms Masasa commenced with splitting her statement into five key points on how communities could be integrated as equal partners in sustainable forest resource management: (i) create attractive marketing strategies for natural resources available, (ii) create partnerships between community investors and local communities, (iii) educate local communities by using arts-based methods, (iv) initiate and strengthen mentorship programmes for agroforestry, and (v) venture into business opportunities.
Ms Tabo stressed the importance of giving the user rights to the local communities for their benefit of them. However, she warned that communities are also too keen to get cash without knowing the value of timber. Namibia needs to add value to their resources.
Ms Heita elaborated her point of view from the environmental laws’ perspective. In her opinion, the Forest Act does not take the daily challenges in forest resource management into consideration satisfactorily. She advised the participants that local communities should take the opportunity of the revision process to approach the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to influence the law-making progress.
Ms Shipapo asked the question: ‘How do we generate generational wealth?’ Her answer was simple: ‘Plant timber to generate value!’ Furthermore, she advised that the revenue of the forest resources should go into a community trust so that the funds can be used to educate the community members through, for instance, sending members to university. Moreover, she visualised her statement by using the example of young people selling wild oranges for only N$ 2. At a Pick’n’Pay store, the same oranges cost the fivefold. She stressed that that is not right because the oranges sold next to the road should have at least the same or higher value than the ones being sold in a store.
After the statements of the panellists, the floor was opened to the audience to engage with the panellist by making comments and asking questions. The good participation of the audience was highlighted in the closing remarks provided by Hon. John Likando, Regional Councillor of Zambezi Region: ‘I am really impressed by the participation of all participants!’
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