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Shifeta Urges People Not to Overharvest Mopane Worms

By: Justicia Shipena

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta says Namibia needs to ensure that mopane worms are not over-harvested.

Shifeta said this at the commemoration of the International Day for Biological Diversity in the Omusati region on Saturday.

The day was observed under the theme ‘Building a shared future for all life’.

“We also need to take care to ensure that natural resources such as mopane worms are not over-harvested,” said Shifeta.

According to Shifeta, the over-harvesting of mopane worms has consequences on the ecosystem in the future.

“This may have unintended consequences on the broader ecosystem in future,” he said.

He added that protected areas and conservation areas are one of the critical tools Namibia has to ensure the protection of biodiversity.

“In Namibia, we should be proud that over 43 per cent of our landmass is under conservation management through state protected areas, communal conservancies, community forests and other areas.”

He said 43 per cent of Namibia’s landmass compares to 16 per cent of the world’s landmass.

“2020 global biodiversity framework for countries is 30 per cent coverage, which is impossible for many countries to achieve,” he expressed.

Shifeta also said his ministry is committed to eradicating poaching.

“We are working closely with the law enforcement agencies and communities to ensure that our high value and endangered species are not threatened by poaching,” he said.

According to him, the fifth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook concludes that six of the 20 Global Biodiversity Targets were partially achieved by the 2020 deadline.

“Similar recent studies have shown that the world is on course for a biodiversity collapse,” he stated.

He further referred to the report by stating that more than a million animal and plant species are presently endangered, with several facing extinction within decades.

Shifeta said human actions are considered to have profoundly impacted 75 per cent of land-based ecosystems and around 66 per cent of the marine environment.

Furthermore, he said the report shows that plastic pollution has grown ten times since 1980.

“Industries throw 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other waste into the planet’s waters each year,” he added.

He expressed that releasing fertiliser residue into coastal ecosystems has resulted in over 400 ocean’ dead zones,’ totalling more than 245 000 km2.

“It is clear that we need to take urgent action at the policy level and all of us as individuals.”

The fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook also provides a portfolio of five main actions to be taken, and Shifeta said the government is working on localising these action areas.

“This will also help us address threats to biodiversity we face such as poaching of high value and endangered species and human-wildlife conflict.”

Hence, he said that perhaps more conservation areas in Namibia are not the answer.

“We need to ensure that our existing conservation areas are well-managed and deliver benefits to our people and biodiversity,” he said.

Moreover, he said Namibia prioritises nature-based solutions to adapt to climate change.

“This includes initiatives such as wildlife farming, eco-tourism development, value addition, and product development from our indigenous plant resources,” said Shifeta.

Shifeta said biodiversity remains the answer to several sustainable development challenges.

“The loss of biodiversity is one of the most severe challenges we face as biodiversity is the foundation of our survival,” he said.

He concluded that people should do everything in their power to ensure that biodiversity is protected.

The international biological day is a United Nations-sanctioned international day to promote biodiversity issues and falls annually on 22 May.

Justicia Shipena

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