Namibia: Anger Over Illegal Timber Harvesting

THE Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society held a peaceful demonstration in Windhoek on Saturday against illegal timber harvesting in the country.

The demonstration follows reports of illegal timber harvesting in north-eastern Namibia.

"Despite the laws implemented by the government to protect natural resources, to promote sustainable management, and to develop a process of assessment and control activities which have significant effects on the environment, illegal timber logging is frequently reported," NEWS member Ailla-Tessa Iiyambula said in a statement she read out during the demonstration.

She said it seems this protection "is only valid on paper."

"Responding to foreign demands for timber and overlooking an ecological dilemma is not sustainable, nor responsible," she stressed.

Iiyambula said if the unsustainable harvesting continues, it will result in an increase in soil erosion and desertification as these species take up to a century to grow to maturity.

"Over-exploiting trees implies reducing and shortening the environmental, economic and social capabilities that the woodland possesses," she added.

Recent media reports said local rosewood forests, especially in the Kavango regions, are being plundered and exported to benefit the Chinese furniture market.

Iiyambula urged the responsible institutions to be active in patrolling relevent areas to ensure the sustainable use of resources, according to Namibian law.

She said issuing a permit does not guarantee adherence to its specifications.

"Just as people are arrested and prosecuted for poaching, so there should be penalties imposed for violations of the Forest Act, Environmental Management Act and related regulations," Iiyambula stated.

The statement will be handed over to the agriculture ministry today.

- Nampa

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