National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy launched
Mutorwa stated that it is a common fact that Namibia’s rangelands are largely degraded and the symptoms are most visible in terms of soil erosion, loss of perennial grasses, deforestation and bush encroachment. The Namibia Rangeland Management Policy will hence serve as a framework and guideline towards implementing strategies that will enable rangeland users and managers to manage their rangelands in such a way that productivity and biodiversity are restored and maintained.
The Minister emphasised that the conditions and productivity of rangelands has direct impact on the livelihoods of the large majority of Namibians, saying that rangeland resource forms the true and vital backbone of the country’s economy. “The daily demand for food is high and will continue to rise sharply as the world’s population keeps on growing and their demand for especially protein is increasing,” he said.
It is estimated that around 30 million hectares of the country’s rangelands are to a larger or smaller extent already threatened by bush encroachment which according to Mutorwa, represents approximately 31.5% of the total land area of the country. Scientific research shows that bush encroachment is costing Namibia’s economy in terms of declining levels of livestock production, nearly N$ 1 billion yearly. “The theme for this year’s deliberations is therefore very appropriate, applicable and compelling,” said the Minister.
Since 1990, the country’s commercial livestock sector has accounted for almost 70% of the overall annual agricultural output value. This activity is almost completely dependent on natural rangelands. However, the alarming state in which much of Namibia’s rangelands are, its inability to support a substantial portion of the nation and the impact of land degradation on the economy are a known factor. The situation thus negatively impacts the tourism industry as the degraded state of the country’s rangelands would be seen as unacceptable from an aesthetic point of view.
Mutorwa called on all stakeholders, government, farmers unions, non governmental organisations as well as the private sector to explore ways and means of effectively and practically implementing the policy and strategy in a comprehensive, scientific and well-planned manner, adding that providing financial incentives to farmers might motivate them to care for their rangelands pro-actively.
Farmers from all over the country attended the forum which was held at Arebbusch Lodge in Windhoek from 11 to 13 September. Topics discussed at the forum ranged from ecological, socio-economic and physiological aspects of bush encroachment, bush utilisation, proper after care and rangeland management.