Bush Encroachment in Namibia
Various studies estimate that 10-12 million hectares, representing 12-14% of Namibia are seriously infested by undesirable bush species. Other studies have determined that about 10 metric tons per hectare of excess wood biomass are available for production. This could provide over 100 million tons of raw materials available for production. With one production plant processing about 5000 tons per year, it is obvious that there is sufficient raw material available for many such plants.
History of Bushblok
In 2001, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) collaborated to find a habitat improvement programme that would be ecologically and economically viable. Research identified a business opportunity to process encroaching bush into compacted fuel logs for use as a cooking fuel or for home heating. CCF Bush (PTY) Ltd. was established to manufacture the Bushblok product.
- Develop harvest methodologies that are economically, environmentally, and socially appropriate.
- Test various chipping and transport methodologies to assure delivery of sufficient quantity and quality of raw chips to the processing plant.
- Establish a processing plant which will use bush chips as raw material, add no chemicals or binders, and produce a clean and economically viable alternative to existing products such as firewood, coal, lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes used for cooking fuel and barbecues.
- Encourage other industries to use bush wood as raw material.
- Employ, train and empower Namibians as work force and management staff as well as provide opportunities for self-employed entrepreneurs.
- Encourage local businesses to harvest and transport the raw material and finished products.
How Does This Help The Cheetah?
The natural habitat of the cheetah is in open grasslands and savannah, which consists of large open areas with scattered trees and bush. Most game species which cheetahs hunt are grazers, and cheetahs are well adapted to hunt and chase prey in these conditions. Bush encroachment causes the savannah to become overgrown with bush species, limiting both the supply of prey and the ability of the cheetah to chase it. Bushblok production requires harvesting this encroaching bush for use as a raw material, which thins it out and helps return the savannah to a more natural state.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)
Established in 1990, the Cheetah Conservation Fund operates in the centre of Namibia’s farmlands. The CCF develops and implements long-term monitoring and multi-disciplinary research and education programmes to ensure the survival of the cheetah and its ecosystem. The CCF also supports environmentally appropriate initiatives that assure the well-being of communities living within the cheetah’s range.