Nam could net billions with bush control – study

Windhoek-The potential net benefits of proper bush control in Namibia could amount to N$111 billion over 25 years, ensuring a substantial gain for the country's economy and social welfare.

The Otjozondjupa Region one of the heartlands of Namibian cattle farming with Omaheke, and home to Namibia's biggest rangelands alone could generate net benefit of N$ 4.9 billion over 25 years and net benefits for the wider economy of N$5.3 billion, compared with a scenario of no bush control.

These are some of the findings of a comprehensive national economic study for Namibi, and a case study for the Otjozondjupa Region over 25 years by the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative (ELD) titled: Benefits of Bush Control In Namibia.

The report released last Friday estimates that regionally every year 5,220 casual jobs could be generated by bush control operations and by the end of the 25-year period, more than 5,700 additional full time jobs could be created and sustained in sectors benefitting from bush control, namely cattle farming, game farming, charcoal production and electricity generation.

Since 2014 the governments of Namibia and Germany have been carrying out a bilateral cooperation to address both the challenges and opportunities of bush encroachment. The Support to De-bushing Project is jointly implemented by the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Development and Economic Cooperation (BMZ).

Their joint goal is to trigger large-scale bush thinning activities. Bush control operations could support an estimated 10,000 jobs after the initial round. The report recommends that good rangeland management practices will be crucial in preventing a vicious cycle of bush encroachment, bush control, restocking, overgrazing, and back to bush encroachment.

The report also proposes state investments in key industries, such as livestock production, groundwater recharge, tourism, and utilisation of biomass through charcoal and firewood production and electricity generation. Another recommendation is to introduce a pilot programme to facilitate research and data collection.

The case study also takes into account the increase in wealth represented by additional cattle. It is estimated that almost 170,000 cattle could be added to the herd. Based on the Namibia. Agricultural Union's model of herd dynamics, the total option value is estimated at N$ 215.7 million.

The potential net benefit for charcoal production was estimated at N$ 1.4 billion. The discounted potential net benefit for the utilisation of firewood was estimated at N$ 633.9 million) over the 25 year horizon.

In total, replacing coal and HFO with woody biomass could result in a total discounted benefit of N$ 672.9 million and total discounted cost of N$171.4 million. The social benefits of employment can include income security and higher living standards, improvements in health and education, decreased crime and drug use, and decreased family disruption.

Additional jobs and household income (labour costs) per year are estimated for five sectors: bush control operations, livestock production, hunting and game, charcoal production, and electricity production.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia