Our FAQs consist of different categories providing information on bush encroachment and value addition.

Bush encroachment is defined as the invasion or thickening of aggressive undesired woody species resulting in an imbalance of the grass to bush ratio. This causes a decrease in biodiversity carrying capacity of both communal (non-freehold) and commercial (free hold) farming land

The primary causes of bush encroachment on savannahs include a reduction in the frequency of fires and overgrazing of livestock. When the grass layer on savannahs loses its competitive advantage and its ability to utilise nutrients and water efficiently, higher infiltration of water and nutrients into the sub-soil results; a situation that benefits bush and tree species, allowing them to predominate (de Klerk 2004).  Bush encroachment is also accompanied by a change in the dominant grasses:  perennial grasses are often lost, being replaced by annual species often of inferior quality for livestock (Scholes 1997, Rothauge 2007). Annual grasses are generally less productive than perennial grasses. Thus, animal production on an annual grass sward is very precarious and less sustainable.

Another important theory is the state-and-transition model, which says that savanna ecosystems are event-driven, where rainfall and its variability play a more important role in vegetation growth (and composition) than the intensity of grazing. This model implies that bush encroachment is not a permanent phenomenon, and that a savanna can be changed to its grass-dominated state by favourable management or environmental conditions (Doughill et al. 1999). Woody plants establish themselves after dry periods followed by a few wet years, and then maintain themselves by utilising most of the water. Rather than a gradual annual increase in numbers, the general rule is that woody plants establish in large numbers during certain years and at varying intervals (Donaldson 1969).

Thus bush encroachment can occur rapidly and may be triggered by management practices and natural events, or a combination of these factors.

The following trees and shrubs are recognised as the main encroacher species in Namibia

  • Dichrostachys cinerea
  • Acacia mellifera
  • Acacia reficiens
  • Colophospermum mopane
  • Terminalia prunoides
  • Terminalia sericea
  • Acacia nebrownii
  • Rhigozum trichotomum
  • Catophractes alexandri

Other species of lesser importance as encroachers, include

  • Combretum collinum (mainly in Zambezi Region)
  • Acacia hebeclada (in areas of eastern Omaheke)

The term “encroacher bush” is used for indigenous species and “invader bush” for alien invasive species. E.g. Prosopis is an alien invasive species from the Mesquite family and was introduced into the country in 1897 from America as a fodder plant. It destroys the indigenous vegetation, uses up great amounts of groundwater and contributes to the substantial decline in land productivity caused by bush encroachment.

Bush encroachment remains a major agricultural problem in Namibia, covering about 26 t 30 million hectares of the country’s savannas, and reducing livestock productivity significantly.  In 2004 De Klerk estimated that 30 % of Namibian land is affected by bush encroachment. New estimations are that 45 million hectares, equating to 60 % of the country size affected.

This presently costs Namibian farmers over N$2.7 billion annually in lost income from reduced beef production . Bush encroachment significantly reduces underground water recharge, as well as biodiversity

Original estimate of extent

Namibia’s bush encroached areas fall mainly within the semi-arid savannas, with rainfall varying from about 300 mm in the west to over 600 mm in the north-eastern parts. It is typically reported that “26 to 30 million hectares of Namibia are encroached”. This figure is based on the map compiled by Bester in 1990, showing the main areas of encroachment (Bester 1990).  

Current estimate of extent

The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on bush thinning and value addition in Namibia (2016) revised the ‘Bester map’ using the field knowledge of a few recognized botanists and bush encroachment experts, to produce the maps shown in below. The individual distribution maps of the six main encroaching species were obtained from the Tree Atlas of Namibia (Curtis & Mannheimer 2005).  The distributions were shown in a quarter-degree square grid, with relative abundance in each square.  Squares were removed from that map where the species was identified as not encroached. These decisions were based on the team’s field experience and observations. Some areas where the species are dense, were not considered to be encroached if the level of encroachment was thought to be natural i.e. not caused by human interventions (such as overstocking or reduction of fires). This process eliminated the areas where the species was not encroached, to leave the quarter degree squares where the species was known to exist at a relatively high density that has come about in the past 60 years. This process yielded the map below which shows only the extent of encroached bush, not densities. The areas of Prosopis encroachment confined to the main ephemeral rivers in southern and central Namibia. According to this revised map, approximately 45 million hectares of Namibia are bush encroached The map below is based on the distribution of the main encroacher species, and information on where they have shown dramatic increases in density over the past +- 50 years.

Effects on the economy:

Research by the Project on the economics of land degradation in relation to bush encroachment (2016) shows a total net benefit of N$ 48 billion discounted over 25 years, or approximately N$ 2 billion annual could be gained should a national bush control programme be implemented compared to bush thinning. The same assessment has shown that such a national intervention would allow the country to gain between N$ 2.1 billion and N$ 4.2 billion worth of livestock production annually. Bush thinning would generate benefits from livestock production, groundwater recharge, production of firewood and charcoal, and generation of electricity, as well as carbon offsets for electricity. At the same time, bush control/thinning would create an estimated number of 10 000 jobs per annum in mechanical operations, which would contribute to employment and poverty reduction for semi-skilled labourers accounted over the initial round of bush control. There are also many unquantified ecosystem services which would be positively affected by bush thinning, which are not included in the dollar estimates provided.

Various bush control methods exist, and are different with regards to efficiency, effectiveness and environmental stability. Due to the lack of scientific long-term research on the possible effect of chemical bush control on groundwater, this methodology is currently not recommended. Equally, the use of heavy machinery (e.g. bush rollers, bulldozers, chains) can have disastrous side effects on the rangeland ecology and therefore is not recommended.

  1. Highly mechanised: primary aim is to harvest the biomass, done with either a skid steer harvester and horizontal rotary cutter or circular sawblades or a hydraulic grab and buncher with blade cutter.
  2. Medium to large-scale mechanised bush thinning operations: Used for quick bush control, leads to soil disturbance; methods include a bush roller mounted on front-end loader, bulldozer/grader/tractor with blade chain between two tractors.
  3. Manual and semi-mechanised methods: Small-scale labour intensive (manual) bush control, such as using axes, pangas, a tractor drawn-slashers, hand-held chainsaws or multi-circular saws
  4. Biological control: no bush is harvested; use of browsers, natural enemies, fungal or bacterial applications
  5. Chemical bush control: herbicides and glyphosates are used either by hand pump, granules or aircraft spraying. It is generally felt that chemical methods would be gladly phased out by farmers for better alternatives.
  6. Other: flame throwers, controlled veld fires or fire-herbivory interaction
  • De-bushing allows for grazing land restoration which increases the carry capacity on the farmland, leading to improved rangeland productivity ultimately contributes to the country’s economy through GDP.
  • Encroacher bush is a significant biomass resource, estimated at more
    than 200 million tons and growing each year. Measures to counter bush encroachment create new opportunities and value chains for Namibia through:
  •  Using  bush biomass for electricity generation
  • Various value added products; charcoal, animal fodder, compressed wood blocks, wood chips, fire wood and fencing poles to mention a few.
  • Job creation employment in harvesting, processing and logistics.
  • Thus, biomass utilisation offers the potential to increase rangeland productivity, increased energy supply, employment creation and economic growth

Yes, there is existing law provisioned under the Environmental Management Act (2007) and Regulations (2012), that is enforcing environmental protection and all bush harvesting activities must comply. Any activity which requires a permit under the Forest Act requires an Environmental Clearance Certificate. This Act is administered by the Environmental Commissioner in the Directorate of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). In order to get Environmental Clearance, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has to be completed, together with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). An EIA is an assessment of the environmental damage that a project might cause, and the EMP provides advice on how the negative impacts can be avoided or reduced.  An EIA is usually carried out by an independent environmental practitioner. Currently the environmental clearance certificate is valid for 3 years.

Bush control activities/harvesting of trees and wood, anywhere in Namibia, is governed by the Forest Act and its Regulations. The Act also regulates activities which take place in classified

forests, namely State Forests, Forestry Management Areas and Community Forests as well as non-classified forest areas. This Act is administered by the Directorate

of Forestry (DoF) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF). The responsible office (DoF) is regulating the use of wood resources by administering the following permits: Harvesting Permits, Transport Permits and Export Permits. A Harvesting Permit is required for any tree cutting and/or harvesting of wood (bushes) in an area greater than 15 hectares per annum.

Bush control and biomass processing equipment can be purchased or hired from the below listed companies.

For hire:

Namibia Biomass Industry Group

Mr Progress Kashandula

Tel: +264 61 24 2949

Email: p.kashandula@n-big.org 

Website: www.n-big.org

5 Von Braun Street, Southern Industrial Area, Windhoek

To buy:

Inventec Agricultural & Industrial Designs

Mr Johan Theron,

Tel: +264 67 307 489 /Cell: +264 81 124 1916

Email: info@inventecnam.com

Web site: www.inventecnam.com

16 West Street, Otjiwarongo

Forklift & Allied Equipment CC (FL & A) ,Windhoek

Mr. Klaus Papendieck

Tel: +264 61 262 390

Email: info@fae.com.na

Web site: www.forkliftnamiba.com

10-12 Rendsburger street, Lafrenz Industrial Area Windheok

Burgers Equipment and Spares Namibia cc

Mr. JH Burger

Tel: +264 67 30 74 78/87 

Email: otjiwarongo@burgersafrica.com

Website  : www.burgersafrica.com

Bahnhof Street, Otjiwarongo


Mr Heiko Meyer

Tel: +264 61 371 117

Cell: +264 81 249 7876


Web site: http://www.woodco.biz/

Transworld Cargo

Mr Norbert Liebich

Cell: +264 61 37 1101

Email: n.liebich@transworldcargo.net

Web site: http://www.transworldcargo.net/

5 Von Braun Street, Southern Industrial Area, Windhoek

TreeCycle (Pty) Ltd, Langebaan, Western Cape, SA

Mr Shaughn Frost,

Tel: +27 82 338 8951


Web site: www.treecycle.co.za

Tomcat Chippers, Worcester, SA

Mr Frans Greyling,

Tel: +27 72 292 1821,


Web site: www.tomcatchippers.co.za

ABC Bandit Chippers, Worcester, SA

Mr Willem van der Merwe

Tel: +27 23 342 1212

Email: info@abcbanditchippers.co.za

Web site: www.abcbanditchippers.co.za

Hochland Tractor Centre

Tel: +264 (0) 61 229 655

Web site: http://www.tractors.com.na/

C/o Pelican & Riethaan,Windhoek

Lubbe Motors Group cc, Lafrenz Industrial area,

Mr. Dirk Human

Tel: +264 (0) 61 – 333 000/ Cell: +264 (0) 81 143 6652                

E-mail: Sales@lubbegroup.com

Web site: www.lubbegroup.com


A broad range of products can be produced from encroacher bush. Products that are already frequently produced include:

  • Charcoal
  • Firewood
  • Fencing poles

Moreover, there is an emerging market for the following products:

  • Woodchips
  • Compressed firewood
  • Animal fodder

Beyond these products, there is potential to venture into more complex biomass production chains, e.g.:

  • Chip boards
  • Wood cement composites
  • Wood plastic composites
  • Bio fuel
  • Bio plastic

    A broad range of products can be produced from encroacher bush. Products that are already frequently produced include:

    • Charcoal
    • Firewood
    • Fencing poles

    Moreover, there is an emerging market for the following products:

    • Woodchips
    • Compressed firewood
    • Animal fodder

    Beyond these products, there is potential to venture into more complex biomass production chains, e.g.:

    • Chip boards
    • Wood cement composites
    • Wood plastic composites
    • Bio fuel
    • Bio plastic

Production of woodchips as a source of fuel in industrial boilers


Ohorongo Cement (Energy for future)

Mr. Tobias Konzmann

Tel: +264 61389 300

Email: konzmann.tobias@eff.na

Ohlthaver & List (Namibia Breweries)

Mr. Eike Krafft

Tel: +264 61 255599

Email: eike.krafft@olfitra.com.na

Website: www.ohlthaverlist.com

Bush briquettes

Cheetah Conservation Fund & CCF Bush Pty Ltd

Mr. Bruce A. Brewer


T: +264 (0)67 306225

C: +264 (0)81 124 7799

Web site: www.bushblok.com

Charcoal for domestic and international export,

Namibia Charcoal Association (NCA), Otjiwarongo ( Agency)

Mr Pieter Potgieter , Manager

Tel: +264 (0)67 304 220

Email: pieter.potgieter@ncanamibia.com

Shop 3, St George’s Street 20

P.O. Box 7984

Website: www.ncanamibia.com

Jumbo Charcoal

Mr. Ian Galloway

T: +264 (0)62 503838

E: jumboch@iway.na

Web site: www.jumbocharcoal.iway.na

Animal feed for subsistence used mostly at farm level by commercial farmers


Tambuti Wilderness,Otavi

Mr. Larry Bussey

T: +264 (0)67 234758


Web site: http://www.hunttambuti.com/

Bush products for gardening/landscaping

Mr. G.A. Friedrich

T: +264 (0)62 570089

E: georgf@iway.na

Web site: www.gottesgabe.com

Bush-to-Energy – Perspectives for Namibia

Encroacher bush is an abundant biomass resource and particularly valuable as renewable fuel. It has been calculated that the annual re-growth of encroacher bush only would be able to cover the entire current electrical energy needs of Namibia – without even bush thinning. At the same time the use of encroacher bush for energy applications has the potential to trigger large scale bush thinning programs with a real impact on bush encroached farmland. Encroacher bush can be used on different levels:

1 – Power generation from biomass in 5- 20 MW biomass power plants will provide decentralised solutions and help diversifying the national energy supply based on domestic resources. The latest Namibia Integrated Resource Management Plan (NIRP) quantifies the potential of encroacher bush fuel to amount to 14o MW or approx. 20 % of national power demand.

2 – In industrial applications biomass supplies industries with thermal energy (steam) and helps substituting imported fossil fuels such as heavy oil or diesel. Currently biomass boilers are used by Ohorongo Cement in Otavi as well as by the Namibia Breweries in Windhoek. There are ample additional opportunities e.g. in the abattoirs and the fish processing factories.

3 – Biomass fuel is also ideally suited to cater for off-grid energy supply solutions and to provide energy on household level. The first could boost rural electrification that currently is around 30 % only while the latter could help saving considerably on fuel expenditure such as firewood and/or gas.

Interesting reading include these studies and policies (links):

It is the process of taking care of harvested land or post treatment process afterbush control to prevent bush regrowth.

After care helps prevents/limitsre-growth or aggravation of encroacher bush controlling the bush after bush thinning. After care methods are implemented to prevent the rapid re-growth of unwanted plants species.

Different after care methods can be used depending on the type of plant species removed:

  • Biological Control– a way of using natural control measures such as introducing types of insect or browsers in the environment to eradicate the remaining aspect of the invader bush.
  • Chemical method- (Use of Herbicides – This method involves application of herbicides immediately after harvesting the encroacher bush ,this type of method is implemented immediately after harvesting the encroacher bush. There different types of herbicides in the market and can be used for short term in controlling bush…
  • Browsers–     use of browsers such as goats and sheep to graze the recently cleared area. This technique was evidently successful when applied to scotch broom species.
  • Rotational grazing and field resting– rotational grazing is based on short grazing periods followed by a long rest. Desired perennial grasses are grazed selectively to ensure and maintain a vigorous grass cover that has the advantage in respect of moisture in the upper layers of the soil.

There are very few institutions in Namibia who provide financing products for bush thinning and bush control initiatives. We are currently in the process of identifying institutions which provide business advisory services to those who are active or wanting to engage in de-bushing.  This service will include the facilitation of access to finance and development of a viable business proposal.  You can approach the following institutions for financing:

  • Agribank –Agribank provides financing products to all value chain actors but largely for chemical and labour based harvesting activities.
  • FNB Agri-FNB has a bush control specific product to support farmers in increasing livestock carrying capacity.
  • Standard Bank- Standard bank provides bush control financing products to all farmers and business in the primary and secondary value chains.
  • EIF-Supports individuals’ projects and communities to ensure the sustainable use of natural resources.
  • DBN- Provides a financial product for all bush thinning activities be it harvesting or production.
  • Ned Bank- Go Green fund provides support to conservation projects and use sustainable resources to help improve livelihoods.