Namibia has great (50%) unemployment. Agricultural depression by bush encroachment (lowered cattle stocking rate) is estimated at greater than one billion Namibian dollars per annum.
Namibia has over 100 million tons of unwanted, standing woody biomass to be harvested and put into trade. To foster a Biomass industry in Namibia that competes competitively in a global market, CCF will research, develop and implement a best practices strategy for the harvesting of native thornbush in a manner that is both efficient and effective while minimizing the adverse effects to the environment. This strategy will incorporate the use of the best available technology, utilize techniques that enable job creation, address local farmers' concerns that have impeded their willingness to eradicate thornbush on their lands, and provide a cost-effective alternative to environmentally harmful eradication techniques such as charcoal production or completely mechanical bush harvesting.
Building upon experience gained in its BUSHBLOK operation, past research collaborations, and recent developments on forestry practices, CCF will acquire and test implements to harvest and process Namibian thornbush. Leveraging its experience in farmer-training, CCF will encourage communal farmers to participate in the biomass supply chain.
The BUSHBLOK processing plant will be re-tooled to improve efficiency and to increase the volume of production. This will allow for the subsidized purchase of woodchip from communal farms. Proving an environmentally and economically sound solution to bush harvest in Namibia will support the expansion of the biomass industry. The biomass industry will eventually create hundreds of entry-level unskilled jobs in compiling and chipping, which are desperately needed in Namibia. The restoration of habitat will improve the farmlands economy which will further contribute to poverty alleviation.
October, December 2012. Acquire harvest machinery and parts to re-tool the BUSHBLOK factory.
November 2012-Re-tool the BUSHBLOK extrusion presses.
January 2013-Harvest machinery arrives Namibia.
February-July 2013-Harvest machine trials in Namibia.
April 2013-Creation of woodchip depot in communal lands.
July- August 2013-Data analysis and report writing.
September 2013-Report publication and public demonstrations on best-practice harvest chain for Namibian thornbush.
Establish standards for best practices for bush eradication that account for environmentally-sound removal, minimal time and human resources required to accomplish the task, and ensures the capacity to create and meet a harvest supply chain demand.
Train 10 new and 20 current employees on the use of machinery and bush harvest techniques.
Institute a demonstration project utilizing the best-practices strategies.
Publish and publicize the results of the demonstration project.
Namibia is choked with overgrown native thornbush, which is hurting the Namibian economy and degrading the habitat, effecting both wildlife and people. In an effort to encourage habitat restoration through sustainable harvest, Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) established the CCF BUSHBLOK Project to demonstrate that value could be added to the harvested bush, encouraging the development of a biomass industry in Namibia. CCF manufactures BUSHBLOK, an award winning low-emission high heat fuel log, which won the Intel Tech Award for the Environment in 2008.
The overgrowth of thornbush is drastically reducing agricultural productivity yet individual landowners who would benefit from bush eradication are generally unwilling or unable to pay for the process. Some have resorted to charcoal production as a method of land clearance. In many cases this has resulted in deforestation of the larger trees and other negative environmental and social consequences. The Namibian government has made bush encroachment a high priority issue, but has not yet focused on a solution.
CCF's BUSHBLOK project demonstrates that value may be derived from harvested bush and is encouraging the development of a biomass industry in Namibia. Thirty direct jobs have been created and hundreds of hectares of bush have been appropriately thinned, with ongoing monitoring of the harvested areas. CCF will refine and expand its BUSHBLOK project to demonstrate that bush encroachment can be controlled in a way that is environmentally and economically sound in a sustainable practice that can benefit the country by creating jobs and restoring habitat. Improvements will allow for the inclusion of bush harvested on communal lands.
BUSHBLOK is seeking corporations and individuals to invest funding, expertise or other resources toward the development and implementation of best-practices and strategies for CCF's BUSHBLOK habitat restoration project in Namibia, and expanding the use of the harvested biomass into sustainable and renewal energy. CCF would like to expand this initiative to other cheetah-range countries. BUSHBLOK would also welcome media support to build more awareness about their project.
OFFERING CCF has experience in thorn bush harvest (slash-handling) and processing and will collaborate with interested parties in developing machinery and best practices for this expanding market.