Safeguarding Namibian Forests
On this episode of the MYD Earth Show, we sit down with Dr. Jonathan Kamwi, a Plant Studies Lecturer at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
MYD: Tell us about how you became a forest scientist?
It started at a very young age. I just loved nature so in secondary school I continued with subjects which are related to nature, agriculture and so on, so I just felt it in my blood. I think also just from my upbringing because I lived in the village with my parents, so I’ve just seen nature almost every day.
MYD: Tell us a little bit about your journey to get your doctorate, because I believe that your journey in your studies is also quite a fascinating story?
My journey was actually a very long one, very tough, but the key to success there was perseverance and discipline. It actually started in 1998. When I graduated from secondary school, I started with a diploma in forestry at Ogongo College. I did that diploma for three years and then I got a job at the Forestry Department and then I was offered a scholarship a year later, because I showed passion, I was very passionate about forestry issues.
MYD: What have been some of the highlights of studying the work that you do?
I think I’ll just start with the professional kind of activity that I’ve been doing. The first one was the development of the tree counting system whereby I tried to look at optimising the costs of doing the fieldwork using modern technologies, so I was able to develop a system whereby I can count trees automatically just from the satellite images instead of going to the field to count one by one.
MYD: So let’s talk a little bit about the Namibian forest systems. Where and how do they occur here?
In our country here we are mainly dictated by the environmental conditions. We know that the best conditions for plant growth are mainly in the North Eastern part of the country where we receive a good amount of rainfall and where we have good soil types.
It’s amazing because we often think that because we have such a dry climate that there aren’t many forests in the dry areas but there are, they are just a different type of forest.
MYD: What would the destruction of our forests mean for the people of Namibia?
This destruction is very important and we really have to take note of it, because they are usually done in an illegal manner and this has the ability to erode our cultural values. Most of our activities, our livelihoods, are dependent on the forests and other cultural values that we attach to the forests will be eroded along the process. So even some of our communities depend on these forests for income and other amenities, so if they are eroded we end up not having those resources anymore.
MYD: Is there something that the public could do?
The public actually have everything to do. I think the first thing that should be done is the promotion of stewardship programs whereby communities themselves can really participate in activities like volunteering, donating to companies which are looking at reducing the illegal harvesting of these resources, and also in other places where we have sufficient rainfall for plant growth, the public can participate in tree planting initiatives. If you cut one tree, plant five.