26 April 2005

Namibia: Forestry Law Now in Local Languages

Windhoek — THE Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has translated the Forestry Policy and Forest Act into seven indigenous languages to ensure that it is understood by as many people as possible.

Deputy Minister Paul Smit launched the Oshindonga, Otjiherero, Silozi and Afrikaans versions of the two documents in Windhoek last week.

Smit said the documents have also been translated into Damara-Nama, Setswana and Rukwangari, but these have not been printed yet.

He said the translated versions were only for information and education purposes.

"They are not meant to be used in a court of law for legal arguments.

The English version remains the only official version for use in a court of law," Smit noted.

The Forestry Act of 2001 and the Forestry Policy give power to the rural poor to manage and derive benefits from their forests.

So far, 13 forests have been declared community forests while 16 more are in the process of being established.

Another aim of the forestry policy is to reconcile rural development with nature conservation by empowering rural farmers and local communities to manage forest resources on a sustainable basis.

Smit said if the forestry policy was implemented in line with these aims, the forestry sector would significantly contribute to national development, especially poverty reduction.

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