Botswana’s forests are a versatile renewable resource that provides a wide range of goods and services to the people especially in rural communities. The Department of Forestry and Range Resources believes the sustainability of these goods and services depends on a number of factors. Also, the fact that some people still believe that these resources are free and inexhaustible has prompted the department to pay deliberate attention to sustainable management of forests in the country.
In June last year 39 African heads of states, including President Khama, attended a conference in Tokyo, at which Japan pledged assistance packages to African countries. This assistance included the TREES initiative for 34 African countries including Botswana.
“The objective of today’s gathering is to grant stakeholders and other interested parties an opportunity to appreciate what the collaboration between the governments of Botswana and Japan is going to bring to this country both in the long and short term. This is with regard to conservation and management of forest resources,” said acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism, Mrs Goitseone Madikwe.
She was speaking at the official launch of the project for enhancing national forest monitoring systems for the promotion of sustainable natural resource management at Gaborone Sun on Monday. Madikwe said a lot of vital data regarding the management of forests across the country is missing, hence the justification of this project. She said the lack of a coherent and committed approach to sustainable forest resources management has over the years not only led to the deterioration of forest ecosystems but their ability to meet future needs.
For his part, Ambassador of Japan to Botswana, Mr Hiroyasu Kobayashi said the three year project started in July last year and is about to enter its second year.
“The launch is of great significance as it will help raise public awareness regarding the project,” he said.
He added that the recent listing of the Okavango Delta as a world heritage site will increase travellers to the Delta, which will lead to a more rapid destruction of the environment if efforts towards forest conservation are not increased. Kobayashi said Japan believes that sustainable development is the only form of development which can provide true benefits for its stakeholders.
“Pursuing economic and social advancement without addressing potential negative impacts such as environment degradation, climate change and natural disasters cannot be considered development in the true sense of the word,” he said.
He explained that the project is very much in line with Japan’s position and expressed hope that it will bear fruit through the dedicated work of Botswana and Japan.
“Our Japanese teams are very enthusiastic about transferring their knowledge and experiences to the project in order to achieve sustainable forest management in Botswana,” said Kobayashi.