CCF commits expanding Bushblok

WINDHOEK: The Cheetah Conservation Foundation (CCF) is increasing its efforts to tackle bush encroachment in Namibia, which costs the economy nearly N.dollars 1 billion per year in terms of declining levels of livestock production.

The founder and Director of CCF, Dr Laurie Marker, who is a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) member, made this pledge during the 2012 CGI annual meeting that took place in New York, USA as from 23 to 25 September this year.

“CCF is proud to announce that as part of its commitment to CGI, we will increase efforts to tackle bush encroachment in Namibia and to develop a biomass industry, thereby protecting the bush or veld ecosystem, creating jobs and providing clean, renewable energy.

When completed, the CCF’s commitment will yield over 600 metric tons of biomass fuel per month, employ dozens of Namibians and restore nearly 1 400 acres of habitat to productive use,” she said in a media statement issued on Wednesday.

According to Marker, the CCF will purchase new harvest equipment, re-tool its Bushblok biomass factory and train new factory employees on the equipment.

CCF’s Bushblok business was developed a decade ago when Marker discovered that bush encroachment was injuring cheetahs and significantly reducing available productive rangeland and farmland.

With the help of a USAID grant, the CCF developed sustainable methods of selectively harvesting the bush, and processed it into an award-winning low-emission, high-heat fuel log called Bushblok. Bushblok won the Intel Tech Award for the Environment in 2008.

Marker promised that the CCF will also educate local farmers in sustainable harvesting methods. The production process will be streamlined, and will more efficiently harvest thornbush and produce biomass fuel.

However, to realize its commitment, the CCF will be seeking corporations and individuals who can provide investment funding, expertise or other resources towards the development and implementation of best practices and strategies for bush harvesting and processing as part of an emerging biomass fuel industry in Namibia.

The CCF’s goal is to restore the habitat of the bushland, increase available grazing lands and stimulate the biomass industry in Namibia.

Marker expressed optimism about the biomass industry, which will eventually create hundreds of entry-level jobs which are desperately needed in Namibia.

Solutions developed by the CCF in Namibia can be exported to other sub-Saharan African countries with similar issues.

“CCF believes that developing biomass fuel opportunities in Namibia can address several critical issues. First, it restores valuable acreage that has been lost to bush encroachment, rendering it fit for use again as productive livestock farming land, and incidentally as rangeland for cheetahs and their prey,” she added.

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the CGI convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges.

To date, CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries.

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