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Prospect Bush wood processing as an industry in Namibia

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The use of bush wood has great potential for the Namibian labour market. New jobs are created in processing and marketing and degraded land is restored for agriculture.

(Semi-) Mechanised harvesting (Semi-) Mechanised  harvesting

Bush wood processing as an industry in Namibia

In 2020, 1.85 million tonnes of bush biomass are expected to be used, including charcoal (approx. 1 million tonnes), firewood (approx. 600,000 tonnes), fence posts (approx. 200,000 tonnes), wood chips (approx. 20,000 tonnes) and bush-based animal feed (approx. 20,000 tonnes). A use of 3.9 million tonnes of bush biomass is forecasted for 2030.

About 2% of the employees in Namibia draw their income from the harvesting and processing of bush wood, which corresponds to about 11.300 jobs. With 10,000 jobs, 50,000 people are catered for in the Namibian social context. In the areas of marketing and distribution, especially women find employment. The raw material bush wood is processed and refined locally, for example into wood chips or bush-based animal feed. This also indirectly supports related areas such as mechanical engineering, transport and logistics. In addition, bush control and harvesting restores formerly productive farmland and provides an improved livelihood for both subsistence farmers and commercial farmers.

If 1 million tonnes of bush wood were produced annually for export, at least 1,500 additional jobs were created in the harvesting sector alone, depending on the harvesting method. The construction of a Biomass Industrial Park, as currently planned in the city of Otjiwarongo would create further 250 jobs. Such an industrial park would combine individual processing lines of bush biomass and aims at both local use and export of bush biomass.

Biomass Industrial Parks (BIP)

The BIP follows the logic of industrial ecology. This includes the widest possible optimisation of all material and energy flows. In a BIP, the individual production steps can be networked in such a way that material and energy optimisation takes place. The entire park is supported by solar energy. Rainwater is collected and used on site.

From a social point of view, the BIP allows for housing and leisure facilities for employees and their families that are above standard in Namibia.

The BIP also offers the opportunity for education and training in fields such as processing and logistics.

A BIP will be a centre for applied research in cooperation with Namibian universities. In concrete terms, a research opportunity will be offered to enable entry into a bioeconomy. A BIP is designed to gradually shift the focus from energy to material use, should the market and technological advances require and enable this.

A BIP provides the resources to monitor the results  of bush thinning. This ensures that negative consequences (overutilisation, GHG emission) are minimised or rather avoided as far as possible.

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