Plant more trees, Shifeta urges

Unsustainable land-use practices a concern
Arbour Day holds profound meaning as it emphasises the vital importance of planting and nurturing trees, the environment minister said.
Ellanie Smit
Despite the immense value of trees, forests face formidable challenges, with deforestation and forest degradation on the rise.
Environment Minister Pohamba Shifeta said this at the commemoration of Arbour Day at Osona Village near Okahandja on Saturday.
"Unsustainable land-use practices, such as slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal logging and urban development, threaten to strip away our precious forests."
These activities not only result in the loss of biodiversity but also contribute to carbon emissions and soil erosion, he said, adding that forest degradation is another concern, driven by selective logging, fuelwood collection and invasive species.
"These issues not only impact our natural ecosystems but also jeopardise the long-term sustainability of our forests."
Shifeta said Arbour Day holds profound meaning as it emphasises the vital importance of planting and nurturing trees.
"Trees are not merely part of our natural landscape; they are life-givers, providers and protectors. Trees are the very lungs of our planet."
He said trees breathe life into the environment by purifying the air, capturing carbon to combat climate change and providing habitat and sustenance for countless species of wildlife.
"Moreover, they offer us a multitude of ecosystem services that are essential for our well-being."
According to Shifeta, trees also reduce water runoff, prevent soil erosion and regulate floods. "They furnish us with valuable resources like timber and forest products while creating employment opportunities in various wood-based industries. But their contributions go even further."
To protect and restore forests, more trees need to be planted - not just in immediate surroundings, but in communities and across the country, the minister said. "We must care for existing trees, water them, protect them from pests and diseases and prune them when needed. Learning about different tree species and their benefits is essential, as knowledge is the first step towards positive action."
Shifeta added that the environment ministry has been diligently researching ways to propagate native tree species, making them accessible for community members to plant and grow. "Remember, tree-growing is not just about planting. It is about nurturing trees until they are firmly established. I urge each one of you to actively participate in tree-planting activities. Together, we can restore our forests in the face of rampant deforestation and degradation."