Mbunza chief bans tree fellingBy: OLAVI HAIKERA
RUNDU – The Mbunza Traditional Authority has temporarily banned the harvesting of timber following the discovery of large consignments of illegally harvested timber in its area.
About 600 poles and 90 planks were confiscated at the villages of Mile 20, Mile 30, Mbeyo and Epingiro within the Mbunza Traditional Authority area yesterday. All four villages are situated south of Rundu.
The illegal harvesting of timber appears to be on the increase in the region.
The Mbunza Traditional Authority leader, Chief Alfons Kaundu, said three trucks en route to Oshikango in the Ohangwena Region were spotted transporting planks.
Kaundu said this illegal timber was discovered after he had received several complaints from community members about people who were cutting down trees without permits.
A man and a woman who were questioned by the traditional authority over the weekend admitted to having cut down trees without permission.
The illegal forest products were then displayed and sold along the Trans-Caprivi Highway at N$10 per pole.
Most of the illegally harvested timber is transported to places such as Oshikango, South Africa and Calai village in Angola, where it is then sold at exorbitant fees.
The Mbunza chief said he is worried because some trees from which the community gather wild fruits have also been cut down.
Kaundu laid the blame for the illegal harvesting on some officials within the Directorate of Forestry in the region, who are allegedly collaborating with those engaged in illegal timber harvesting.
He said the traditional authority has on several occasions confiscated forest products and taken the culprits to the directorate, but no one accused of harvesting timber illegally in his area of jurisdiction has ever been prosecuted.
The Mbunza chief has now banned the transportation and harvesting of timber in the communal area under his jurisdiction until further notice in an effort to prevent deforestation.
“The forest is now becoming a desert, so no more harvesting and transportation of timber until further notice,” he said.
Kaundu said the confiscated poles and timber will now be taken to the Mbunza Traditional Authority’s headquarters, where a decision will be taken on what to do with it. – Nampa