Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Northeastern Community Forests to Be Gazetted

Windhoek — The Community Forestry in North Eastern Namibia (CFNEN) project will hold a ceremony at Ncumcara Community Forest, about 34 kilometres south of Rundu, on 6 June to commemorate the official declaration of community forests in Kavango region.

The ceremony will be held at the Community Forest Office Compound in Ncumcara, and it will also be used to inaugurate the community forest buildings at Ncumcara and Ncaute, forty-five kilometres south east of Rundu.

Similar ceremonies will also take place on 5 June in M'Kata community (western Tsumkwe) and on 8 June in Katima. CFNEN is a cooperation of the Directorate of Forestry (DoF) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the German Development Service (DED) and the German Development Bank (KFW). High-ranking officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and other Government departments, the German Embassy, German Development Service, Traditional Authorities and the civic society are expected to attend. A series of activities to mark the day have been organised to include traditional performances and forest-related activities in Ncumcara and Ncaute community forests for Kavango region and M'Kata, Masida and Bukalo community forests for Western Tsumkwe and Caprivi region.

There will also be field trips to several project areas to provide opportunities to know about the project's developments and achievements.

Through the signing of community forest agreements with the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in November 2004, and the subsequent publishing in the Government Gazette, No. 3590 of 14 February 2006, the eight community forests of Bukalo, Masida and Lubuta in Caprivi region, M'kata in West Tsumkwe, Mbeyo, Ncamagoro, Ncaute and Ncumcara in Kavango region have been granted conditional use rights for forest products. This gives the communities legal ownership over the forest resources in the respective areas. Based on the provisions of the Forest Act of 2001, the community forestry project assists local communities to establish their own community forests, to manage and utilize them in a sustainable manner.

With the provision of logistical, administrative and technical support, communities are empowered to protect and preserve their indigenous forests as a basis for peoples' lives, and for income generation aimed to improve local livelihoods. The activities within the forest management operations aim to create social and economic incentives for the local communities on the basis of a sustainable forest management plan.

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