New Era (Namibia)

WINDHOEK – Namibia’s well maintained biodiversity brings in a whopping N$13 billion annually, Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta announced this week.

According to Shifeta, 40 percent of the income generated is accounted for by the tourism industry.
He made the remarks on Wednesday when he addressed a conference on the current state of Sustainable Natural Resources Management in Namibia and ways to unlock its bio-economy potential.

Shifeta noted ecosystem services are of particular importance to the most deprived sections of society, especially communities residing in rural areas.

“They have little or no land, little or no fuel, little or no income, and struggle daily with the burden of poverty. There is a natural link between forests and the rural population. Forest resources can provide, building materials, fuel, craft materials and importantly much needed employment.

These resources are also renewable once they are used sustainably,” he said. He explained the ministry is determined together with line ministries and other key stakeholders to promote a thriving forest sector, utilised to the lasting benefit of the society, and developed and managed to protect and to improve the environment.

According to him, there are important over-riding concerns for them as a ministry.
Therefore, he says it is particularly important that everyone desist from exploiting any of the natural resources for short-term gains which ignores the future and thereby sacrifices the future generations.
The minister informed the ministry is still gripped with tackling the commercial harvesting of slow-growing hardwood trees for export overseas.

Shifeta said these activities only benefit few individuals here and abroad at the expense of the broader population economy and environment.
“Namibia is not like other tropical rain forest countries where you can undertake large-scale commercial timber harvesting.

The levels of harvesting we have seen in recent years have been inherently unsustainable and we, therefore, need to ensure that these activities are carefully controlled and regulated.
Otherwise the future generations will not forgive us as our forest habitats will have disappeared,” Shifeta reacted.

He reiterated that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is obliged by the Namibian Constitution and other laws to protect the environment entirely, on land, water and air. “And we do so without fear, favour or prejudice.”