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Syndicates involved in Namibian hardwood plunder claims investigative journalist

11 February 2020 11:00 AM
Tags:
Namibian hardwood
John Grobler
Environmental investigative journo John Grobler explains the difference between hardwood and braai wood from Namibia.

Namibian trees are reportedly under threat.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist talks to Refilwe Moloto to clarify the issue.

He says there are two kinds of wood under discussion.

The first is firewood used in South Africa should typically be deadwood harvested under permit on commercial farms.

The second is teak that was discussed in the video clip played by Refilwe is a different wood altogether, he explains and is used for furniture.

This second category is where the problem lies, he says.

That is a massive, massive problem at the moment in Northern Namibia.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

He says it is being harvested in communal areas where there is very little if any controls in place.

Namibia is a vast and open place...and it is very difficult to get control of the resource, especially as the minister of agriculture and his directorate of forestries is not really coming to the party on this.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

Grobler speaks of mercenary logging teams that move around and chop down any trees they can make a buck from.

It's a way of quickly making cash for some people.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

And what does this mean for your braai?

If you are buying firewood please just try and confirm with the seller that it has been harvested under permit, and transported under permit. There is a whole lot of smuggling going on.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

Kameeldoring or Camelthorn trees, and Mupane trees are protected under the law while alive and must be harvested as deadwood.

The problem is that people sometimes will go and burn down live Camelthorn trees which they will then later come and break up into firewood and that is what we are trying to avoid.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

But most firewood comes from commercial farms under permit and is, therefore, legal to use.

If you encounter illegally obtained firewood from Namibia contact John Grobler on Facebook.

They do pay attention to what I say.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

He claims there is evidence of Chinese-related syndicates operating in the plundering of Namibian wood.

It is all part of this very corrupt political process.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

These trees take 600 years to reach maturity and we are never going to see them grow back in our lifetime. And it is because they grow so slowly that they are so sort after by the Chinese because it is a dense hardwood that can be shaped and formed.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

They sell the tree here for maybe R600 and it is then sold for tens of thousands.

John Grobler, freelance investigative environmental journalist

Listen to the interview below:


11 February 2020 11:00 AM
Tags:
Namibian hardwood
John Grobler

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