Rundu — Kavango Regional Governor Maurus Nekaro supports the decision by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to suspend the issuance of forestry permits for sawn timber in the region, until the issuance policies are revised.
As of August 01, the issuance of forestry permits for sawn timber was temporarily suspended until further notice. The suspension came fast on the heels of recent media reports about the seemingly uncontrolled logging in the Kavango Region.
"Suspending all issuing activities is the right thing to do, provided that the ministry reviews all the issuing policies, otherwise it does not serve any purpose. This will help us to bring illegal timber operations to a halt," said Nekaro.
He further called on the Namibian Police to arrest anyone found transporting timber until such a time when the ministry decides to lift the suspension. In a media release circulated last week, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Joseph Iita said the restrictions on timber logging are applicable to both declared and non-declared community forests. Iita said illegal timber activities are escalating at an alarming rate in Namibia, particularly in the Kavango Region.
"This is not only of concern to the authorities mandated to manage our forest resources, but other stakeholders are all increasingly concerned and vocal regarding these illegal harvesting activities," said Iita. The ministry has vowed to take firm action to end illegal logging, and to respond to public appeals for appropriate action.
Iita further acknowledged that the current situation calls for an urgent revisit of the ministry's operations countrywide.
"As a Ministry responsible for forestry administration in the country, we strongly feel that there is a need to stop the issuing of all commercial harvesting permits (sawn timber) for all tree species, while we revisit and critically review the current arrangements," he said.
The Permanent Secretary added that, if necessary, an improved strategy to combat illegal operations will be formulated. The movement of forest products from neighboring countries such as Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia will be strictly monitored to ensure that these products are indeed sourced from outside Namibia, he warned.
"Those who are in possession of harvesting permits that were issued prior to 01 August 2012 are advised to report to the nearest forestry office for appropriate arrangements for their current operations," he said.