More than 30 million hectares of land is bush encroached posing social, environmental, and economic challenges for Namibia. The wood-based value chains in Namibia are uniquely characterised to address bush encroachment. Bush clearing cannot take place, rather bush thinning paired with the utilisation of the biomass should be done. Bush thinning must be based on the principles of ecological restoration of Namibian rangelands.
Various bush thinning methods were developed and tested, ranging from manual,semi-mechanised, biological, mechanised, and chemical methods. Bush thinning in Namibia, in terms of volumes and jobs, is mainly carried out by manual felling of encroacher bush species, from which the biomass is used for various value addition opportunities. Annually by volume, more than 700,000 tonnes of biomass is manually harvested for charcoal production, and less than 100,000 tonnes of this wood is derived through mechanised felling.
This manual provides guidelines for labour-based bush harvesting operations in Namibia. The guidelines are based on a pilot project in three land-use types, namely communal, commercial, and government research farms. The objectives of the labour-based bush harvesting guidelines are to contribute to the restoration of rangelands, creation of employment in rural areas, creation of good reputation around labour based harvesting methods, utilisation of the biomass, and promotion of aftercare. It further takes the harvester through a step-by-step approach, from felling to preparing the derived biomass for further processing and value addition.
The guidelines are further informed by best practices and lessons from similar case studies in Southern Africa. A list of considerations for labour-based bush harvesting in Namibia, selection of equipment and maintenance, environmental and social guidelines as well as useful contacts can be found in this publication.
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