Namibia Successfully Combats Bush Encroachment

7 Sep 2023

Having a barbecue with friends and family is a popular pastime in Namibia and abroad, moreover a bag of charcoal comes in handy to start a “braai vleis” as we say here.

But, did you know that the charcoal Namibia exports mainly to Europe is made from shredded invasive bush species, which are burnt to produce charcoal?

Areas with thick bush prevent wild animals and also livestock from grazing and other plants to prosper. The environmental concern of bush encroachment affects approximately 45 million hectares of land in Namibia. The solution is thinning the thick bush and to make use of this harvested biomass in an innovative way like charcoal and even fodder for livestock with a few added ingredients.

In Namibia, bush thinning or bush harvesting has become a successful niche industry, creating jobs and diversifying the agricultural sector. Charcoal production has become an addtional income for farmers.

bush harvesting, Namibia
Manual felling of bush control using axes, spades, and pangas to harvest Namibian encroacher bush. Photo: GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project

A few years ago, the first small Bio Mass Fair took place in Namibia, showcasing machinery for bush thinning and innovative equipment for shredding. This event has grown into a fully-fledged fair and expo with an industry conference and a scientific research symposium to share experiences as well as the latest developments. The “meet and greet” experience for farmers, scientists, business individuals and visitors, allows to the showcase and exchange views, which is also very important.

This year the Bio Mass Fair 2023, which takes place at the Gross Barmen Resort, west of Okahandja is even bigger and will be for a period of three days from 7 to 9 September.

This year’s theme is “Stimulating growth in the biomass sector in Namibia”. Virtual participation via livestream and Zoom meetings is possible (one has to register via The research symposium begins on Thursday. This will look closely at the impact of bush control on soil organic carbon, products and value chain development.

heaps of chipped wood, Namibia
Heaps of chipped woody biomass in Namibia. Photo: GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation Project

The industry forum takes place on Friday, 8 September, together with the expo where machinery and equipment is displayed until the next day, 9 September. Needless to say, that such events also are a culinary delight for visitors and exhibitors with Namibian dishes available and cold Namibian beer awaiting to be enjoyed.

The event is worth a visit either in person or virtually via

Brigitte Weidlich


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