Project End Conference on ‘The Future of Namibia’s Forests – Sustainable Forest Management as Key to Unlock its Potential’
On September 20th, an impactful project end conference titled "The Future of Namibia's Forests – Sustainable Forest Management as Key to Unlock its Potential" took place at Mercure Hotel in Windhoek. The conference was officially endorsed by the Parliament of the Republic of Namibia and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT). The conference provided a platform for thought-provoking discussions and presentations by expert speakers, shedding light on various aspects related to Namibia's forests. Implemented by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Namibia in collaboration with the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) and funded by the European Union, the conference constituted the project end activity of the ‘Promoting Sustainable Forest Management in the Kavango-Zambezi-Region in Namibia’ (NSFM) project.
The conference was graced by the presence of the Deputy Head of Mission, Delegation of the European Union to Namibia, Ms Gosia Lachut, who provided the welcoming remarks. She welcomed all participants in her capacity and thanked the government representatives and all stakeholders for joining hands together in attempting to address issues of national concern such as sustainable use and management of Namibia’s natural resources. She further noted and gave her appreciation to the NSFM project for its successfully implemented activities and for addressing uncontrolled deforestation in the affected regions. The keynote speech thereafter was given by Hon. Pohamba Shifeta, Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism (MEFT), who highlighted key factors on promoting sustainability in the Namibian forests. He also wished success for the conference and that the lessons shared would enable Namibia to promote a vibrant, sustainable, and socially conscious forestry sector. The opening session concluded with a presentation by Dr Lara Beer, Project Manager of the NSFM project. She highlighted the remarkable achievements and reflections on the project's accomplishments over the past three years.
The events’ programme was divided into five content-related sessions which included various presentations on different insightful topics. Throughout the day, the audience had the privilege of engaging with insightful presenters who covered a wide range of informative topics. These presentations delved into the current state of Namibia's forests, the sustainable utilization of forest resources in communal areas, and forest education, among other significant subjects.
Session I focused on the introduction to forestry in Namibia. Ms Albertina Fillipus presented on the status quo of forestry in Namibia, followed by an enlightening presentation of sustainable unitization of forest resources in communal areas in Namibia by Ms Kamuhelo Lisao from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism. After the initial session, a dynamic question and answer segment ensued, with enthusiastic participants actively contributing and expressing their appreciation for the achievements of the NSFM project over the past three years. Concerns were raised regarding the sustainability of community forest management once the project concludes, leading to a suggestion for project extension to secure funding from potential donors.
In addition to the in-person presenters, the conference was honoured to host virtual presentations that offered valuable insights into the trade performance of the timber sector in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region which was presented by Dr Julius Chupezi from the African Development Bank. Mr Leroy Diocotlhe from Miombo Forestry Products presented during the second session on forestry education, who emphasized on skills and knowledge that needs to be developed to the local people in order to add value to the Namibian products to target international timber markets. Furthermore, Mr Steven Germishuizen from Sustainable African Forest Assurance Scheme (SAFAS) gave an insightful presentation on providing locally relevant internationally recognized forest certification for southern Africa. Session II concluded with the question-and-answer session and was followed by a lunch break where participants had opportunities to network.
The afternoon of the event was dominated by session III which focused on forest inventory. Ms Miya Kabajani, a forestry consultant, informed on the forest inventory as a forest management tool and Dr Andreas Nicodemus, a forester at the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, presented about national forest inventory from Government perspective.
Session IV focused on innovations in forestry. Dr Inge Jonckheeree from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) virtually presented from Rome and shared about the role of earth observation and artificial intelligence in forest monitoring as a way forward for climate mitigation and adaptation. She emphasised that achieving ambitious climate goals relies on international cooperation and transnational partnerships to play a growing role as technology, knowledge and to share experience. Ms Sophia Trautmann from the working group German Forest Owners Association presented a case study from Germany. She talked about an early-detection-system for forests - a software called ‘Wald–Wiki’ – which is a tool to provide information about the forest condition, exchange experiences amongst forest owners and to optimise communication and coordinates across cooperation and the public.
A pivotal moment during the conference was the panel discussion of session V, which centred on the critical imperative to develop active forest management practices in Namibia. The panel featured representatives from the government, private sector, and the local community, fostering a well-rounded and comprehensive dialogue on this crucial subject. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr Clemens von Doderer. Presenters on the panel discussion were Mr Johnson Ndokosho, Directorate of Forestry, Mr Michael //Otaub, Directorate of Forestry, Mr Hans-Christian Mahnke, a consultant, Dr Juliane Zeidler, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Mr Thomas Muronga, Kapinga Kamwale Community Forest. The panellists delivered insightful presentations, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities in developing effective forest management plans in Namibia.
The conference was a testament to the dedication and collaborative efforts of all involved, and it provided a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas to shape the future of Namibia's forests. The NSFM project extend its gratitude to all participants and looks forward to continued progress in sustainable forest management. The conference was closed by Dr Martin Schneider, Director the DRFN, who gave a vote of thanks and the closing remarks.
To access the conference presentations, click on the links below:
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