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About 45 Million Hectares Of Grassland Affect By Bush Encroachment


…As The Environment Ministry Launches Strategy On Bush Management

By: Ndinelao Shingenge

Enviroment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says Namibia faces faces a number of pressing environmental challenges which includes bush encroachment, biodiversity loss and climate change.

Bush encroachment involves the replacement of native grasses by encroaching bush species.

Shifeta said this during the opening of the Biomass Fair Industry Conference and the launch of the National Strategy on the Sustainable Management of Bush Resources for 2022-2027.

The conference which took place under the theme ‘Discovering a new decade for biomass’ is centered on market and financing access, technology transfer, environmental challenges, legal and regulatory frameworks, biomass value chains and certifications services.

“About 45 million hectares of our grassland savannah are estimated to be affected by bush encroachment. This has severe negative impacts on biodiversity, soils, water availability, the land productivity and the livelihoods of our people, which are largely dependent on the country’s vast natural savannah ecosystem,” said Shifeta.

However, he said bush encroachment also offers numerous economic opportunities, stating that the bush can be used as a basis for value chains that contribute to improved domestic economic development, add value to export products, create employment and income in rural areas while further being an innovation driver for future green technologies.

“We are calling on farmers, private companies and other stakeholders to seize on this opportunity to restore land that is degraded through bush encroachment,” he said.

Shifeta added that it is critical that this is done sustainably, is based on application of science and on value addition.

He said that such processes should benefit local communities.

“In spite of the impact of the Covid-19pandemic, the bush biomass sector is one that continues to grow, and it is a sector with high economic potential as we recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”

Hence he said it is not surprising to see a growing interest from the private sector, national and international development institutions to promote bush value chains and build a flourishing bush-based biomass industry.

“We encourage the further development of this sector and the Ministry is committed to ensure the optimal management and use of bush resources to safeguard the sustainability of the resource base and to generate environmental and socio-economic benefits.”

In this regard, to the newly launched strategy, he the National Strategy on the Sustainable Management of Bush Resources provides a framework to ensure that bush resources are used sustainably with value added.

Shifeta also stressed that the development of the bush biomass sector benefits all Namibians and the broader environment.

“It is also essential to ensure that our bush control efforts contribute to achieving important international commitments on deforestation and afforestation, land degradation and desertification, climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as conservation of biological diversity as outlined in the Rio Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCBD and UNCCD).”

Julia Heita

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