|dc.description.abstract||Forests are being depleted and the land becoming bare, with little to no vegetation in the Etayi
constituency and in Namibia at large. People rely on the resources of forests for different reasons.
Areas that had trees years back have turned into a desert-like environment due to deforestation. The
purpose of this study was to examine the impact that the cutting of natural forests has had in the Etayi
constituency in the Omusati Region, Namibia. This examination has become necessary because
forests in the Omusati region have undergone a rapid depletion over the past years. However, it should
be noted that these environmentally degrading activities have contributed to the household income in
the form of employment to the indigenous people. Forests has an important role to play in terms of
the conservation of biodiversity. They also harbour unique and endemic species that are mainly
adapted to extreme ecological conditions. They provide vital benefit to the ecosystem, such as wood
for fuel, medicine, fodder for animals and tradable goods, like furniture. Furthermore, forests provide
the soil with nutrients and reduce wind velocity, thus controlling wind erosion and the retardation of
water and moisture depletion. With increasingly uncertain climatic conditions and their related impact
across the continent at large, there is a need for new approaches towards the management of
indigenous forests that support and promote land-users’ resilience to climatic variability and change.
The role of forests in climate change mitigation is important as it sustains the ecosystem.
The maintenance of ecological systems has been acknowledged as one of the most important facets
of sustainable development. Subsequently, the involvement of several international and local policies
and regulations has been established to ensure that natural resources, such as forests, are sustainably
utilised. In rural areas/villages, overdependence on wood for fuel has been identified as one of the
biggest threats to the forests. This has led to environmental degradation that includes, among others,
deforestation, desertification, the extinction of species and soil erosion.
Based on the many issues caused by the over-reliance on wood for fuel, this research sought to
investigate the impact of the over-exploitation of natural forests in the environment. Ninety-seven
(97) respondents, comprising of 51 females and 46 males, were used in this study. Four (4) villages
in the Etayi Constituency were chosen for the study. The study employed a qualitative and
quantitative approach, which included the following methods of data collection: questionnaires,
observation and interviews with respondents in the Etayi community. A quantitative method enabled
the researcher to ask questions such as how many and how often? It helped the researcher further to
plot the responses into graphs and diagrams. Government representatives from the Constituency
Council and Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and Traditional Authorities in the four
villages were interviewed.
The study identified key threats to the forests as a result of high fuelwood collection. These threats
include high levels of poverty, overdependence on the forests, a lack of understanding about the
importance of forests for the environment, little or a lack of information regarding other alternative
sources of energy and the lack of coordination in the management of fuelwood resources. Apart from
fuelwood being used as a source of energy for cooking and lighting, the exploitation of local fuelwood
has become commercialised to supplement household income. Since there is a lack of coordination
in the management of natural resources, fuelwood resources are not being managed at all.
A main argument identified by this study is that forest management must be a combined approach by
all stakeholders. The roles of traditional leaders in forest management should be made public. The
lack of an awareness campaign on the importance of forests, a lack of management coordination as
well as poverty, makes it difficult for the forests policies to be implemented and for the traditional
authorities to manage the forests efficiently.
The study recommends that educational programmes, proper coordination between key stakeholders
and awareness campaigns regarding the environmental importance of forests to residents would
alleviate deforestation and over-exploitation of forests resources. Additionally, an emphasis on the
relationship between traditional and local governance in the management of forests as sources of
fuelwood and the physical environment should receive attention.||en_US