Illegal harvesting of forest products worrisome: MAWF

WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) is greatly concerned about the illegal harvesting and transportation of forest products.

MAWF Minister John Mutorwa raised the alarm in the foreword of the ministry’s annual report for the 2012/13 financial year made available on Wednesday, saying this is happening despite several meetings held country-wide to outline procedures on how forest permits can be obtained.

“Despite the intensification of patrols and awareness campaigns, illegal harvesting or logging of trees in the forests remains a challenge in the country. Various meetings and workshops were held to sensitise communities on the importance and protection of forest resources and the procedures to obtain permits,” the minister stated.

During the period, a total of 17 004 permits were issued for utilisation of forest products, while 122 fines were issued to persons illegally transporting or harvesting forest products. A total of 260 roadblocks were set up and 364 resource inspections and 440 patrols conducted.

One storage site with 2 575 planks was discovered next to the Rundu-Divundu main road near the Andara junction.

More than 38 000 tonnes of firewood; 78 000 tonnes of charcoal; 97,9 cubic metres of timber; 427 000 droppers; 120 000 poles; and 53 000 wood carvings were harvested legally from the forests.

The report also stated that 330 tonnes of firewood; 90 cubic metres of timber; 8 353 droppers; 5 761 poles; and 205 wood carvings were confiscated. The suspects involved did not have supporting documents.

According to the report, a South African citizen was arrested for cutting Kiaat trees in the Mukwe Constituency without a permit, and 2 575 planks, seven bundles of unprocessed planks, 23 logs and a sawmill were confiscated and forfeit by the State.

“Despite these challenge, the ministry continues to persevere in implementing its objective and has made significant progress in some sectors,” the report added.