WINDHOEK: Illegal timber operations, particularly in the Kavango Region, have prompted the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) to temporarily suspend the issuing of forest permits for sawn timber as from 01 August this year.
The timber-harvesting permits have been suspended until further notice.
“The current situation demands an urgent revisiting of our operations in all parts of the country,” MAWF Permanent Secretary (PS) Joseph Iita said in a media statement on Tuesday.
Explaining the reasons for the temporary suspension, the PS said his ministry is revisiting and critically reviewing the current arrangements, and if necessary, will be formulating an improved strategy to combat illegal operations.
The illegal harvesting is not only of concern to the authorities mandated to manage the country’s forest resources, but other stakeholders are also increasingly concerned and speaking up about these illegal harvesting activities.
A week ago, the Mbunza Traditional Authority unearthed large consignments of forest produce allegedly illegally harvested in the Mbunza communal area.
The 600 poles and 90 planks were confiscated at the villages of Mile 20, Mile 30, Mbeyo and Epingiro within the Mbunza Authority.
All four villages are situated south of Rundu.
Three trucks en route to Oshikango in the Ohangwena Region were also spotted transporting planks.
Iita said the movement of forest products from neighbouring countries such as Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia will be strictly monitored to ensure that these products are indeed sourced from outside Namibia.
Forestry officials will also closely monitor all movements of timber to find out the origin of those products. The restriction of cutting timber is also applicable to both declared and non-declared community forests.
The ministry has thus called for co-operation from members of the public and affected parties. Those who are in possession of harvesting permits which were issued prior to the beginning of the month are advised to contact the nearest forestry office for appropriate arrangements for their current operations.