Bush encroachment is one of the key agricultural challenges in Namibia. To date it is estimated that more than half of the country’s prime rangelands are affected by the phenomenon. In figures, this affects 30 to 45 million hectares which is more than 30 per cent of Namibia’s land area. The most significant consequences of bush encroachment are reduced carrying capacity of affected rangeland, groundwater recharge and biodiversity loss.
Over the past two decades, the Namibian government has been implementing activities tailored to combatting bush encroachment. These activities are well articulated in the Harambee Prosperity Plan, National Development Plans Five and the National Rangeland Policy and Strategic Plan. While bush encroachment constitutes as an immense challenge, it also provides an opportunity for economic development in Namibia. The accumulated biomass resulting from bush thinning can be gainfully used, making it an economically viable resource for value addition opportunities. Against this brief background, the Namibia University of Science and Technology embarked on this proposal to support the Biomass Utilization by Sustainable Harvest Project on a cooperation for research and development for bush-based products, technology transfer as well as applied research on bush control.
NUST aims to become the leading university in Africa known for being a trendsetter in higher education and applied research internationally. Key goals for NUST include "knowledge creation" in the applied and multidisciplinary arenas and contributing to economic and social development. It aims to do this through the promotion and facilitation of sustainable innovation, technology development and knowledge transfer in conjunction with national and international partnership with other universities, institutions and organisations. In line with this, NUST aims to further develop and expand its research involvement in Biomass Utilization by Sustainable Harvest issues in Namibia.
NUST has extensive experiences in the field of Biomass Utilization by Sustainable Harvest . It has implemented many projects within the scopes of rangeland management, biomass harvesting protocols, development of various agricultural tools and machines, all while actively engaged with industry and public stakeholders.
This project has adopted a multidisciplinary approach to Biomass Utilisation by Sustainable Harvest issues in Namibia involving the following Faculties and Centres at NUST: The Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences (FNRSS), the Faculty of Engineering (FE), the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences (FHAS), and the Innovation Design Lab (IDL). Additional to the research, are its tangible technology development outcome, most of which will be delivered by 2021 in parallel to a pragmatic stakeholders’ knowledge creation pathway.
This project is not be implemented in isolation, but is it be conducted through active engagement with numerous public and private stakeholders.
Upscaling of Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation requires technologies, applied research and capacity development solutions that: (a) meet the specific challenges of bush encroachment in Namibia, (b) responds to the development challenges of the Namibian socio-economic and physical environment (such as employment creation, semi-skilled jobs, labour standards etc), (c) are environmentally sustainable and (d) are innovative and develop locally reproduceable realistic technologies.
The overall objective of the project is to develop and test innovative, climate-friendly technologies for bush control as well as to develop capacities for biomass utilisation in Namibia. The key attributes of this project are:
- To position Namibia as a centre of excellence in biomass utilisation.
- To support the development of a bio-economy sector and the resulting overall economic benefits.
- To develop capacities and knowledge for the emerging biomass sector.
- For NUST to become a regional leader in bush control and biomass utilisation research and development.