The rationale behind the engagement was to have private stakeholder engage with law makers on the crisis at hand. Due to prior commitments on behalf of parliamentarians and the upcoming parliamentary recess. The turnout was not as envisioned.
However, the show must go on. Key stakeholders spoke to those in attendance about the crisis we as a nation are facing. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism were first to speak. The Ministry is against illegal logging and does not support it, and it shouldn’t be allowed in Namibia.
A scientific engagement was done by Dr. Simon Angombe from the University of Namibia (UNAM) along with Dr Vera De Cauwer from the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST). They spoke about the regeneration process of certain species and the difficulty they have. As result is poor soil quality which makes the regeneration process even more difficult.
A social assessment was done by Ailla Tessa Nangula Iiyambula who is a master’s student at NUST. She emphasised that due to the cutting down of trees, wildlife and the human population are now competing for resources. She also pointed out by the cutting down of trees, we are cutting down what holds an ecosystem.
Dr Christopher Brown the CEO of the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE), pointed out that we do not have reforestation programmes in Namibia. He recommended value addition, which is currently lacking in legislation. At present we are currently exporting raw timber and locals and the Namibian economy are missing out.
An economic perspective was given by Dr Michael Humavindu who is a natural resource economist. He too spoke of value addition that needs to be done at a local level. If one were to track the value of chain, the country is losing out.
Willem Odendaal from the Legal Assistance (LAC). He spoke about how the penalties are too low for individuals who illegally harvest timber. Odendaal also referred to the legislation being the tool to enforce the law. He echoed that we should not do things now that will negatively influence future generations.
The final item on the agenda was a Q & A session where those in attendance were afforded the opportunity to ask stakeholders on the presentations given. What was apparent was the genuine interest and concern on what had be presented.
It was decided by the Honourable speaker Prof Peter Katjavivi, that another parliamentary-public engagement on the same topic would be held in September when all could be in attendance.