Committed to conservation and development
As one of few countries in the world with conservation and environmental management mandated in the Constitution, Namibia’s approach to conservation is holistic and inclusive both in terms of maintaining ecological integrity and the rights of communities to benefit from its natural resources. “Our nation is committed to the balance between conservation and community development. We know that this is the major reason for our success, the opportunity to showcase our conservation commitments to the adventure travel industry,’’ said Hon. Minister Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah, who travelled to Switzerland where the flame of the Adventure Travel World Summit was passed to Namibia.
Since Independence, the percentage of land area under some form of conservation management has expanded from 13% to 42%. According to the ministry, this is just one of the examples where the country’s well-considered approach to conservation, the environment, its people and their resources, have proven successful not just for the nation but in setting an international example of protection and responsible resource utilisation.
The first four conservancies were registered in 1998 and today, there are over 76 registered communal conservancies covering over 18% of the land area and directly benefiting over 250,000 rural Namibians. Only recently, Namibia established the largest national park in Africa and is the only country in the world with an entirely protected coastline. Within the Communal Conservancy Tourism Sector, there are over 40 formal joint-venture lodges and camp sites that work in collaboration with their host communities.
Namibia’s conservation policies and community based natural resource management have not only changed the conservation landscape but have also changed lives. The ministry emphasised that through conservancies, previously disadvantaged communities have a voice in the management and benefits of living with wildlife and have set a global example for environmental stewardship.
Known as the cheetah capital of the world, Namibia is also the only country in Africa with an expanding, free roaming lion population and there has been a dramatic decrease in poaching to almost negligible levels today. In contrast with other destinations in the region, Namibia is translocating a critically endangered species, the black rhino out of national parks to communal conservancy land areas. Globally recognised as a leader in community-based conservation, Namibia has garnered such prestigious recognition as the 2012 Markhor Award for Outstanding Conservation Performance in recognition of its exceptional wildlife conservation programme.