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More land for conservation

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has earmarked an additional 15 550 square kilometres of land for conservation. The land will be brought under protected landscapes management arrangements under a new project which is designed to conserve biodiversity.
The recently launched Namibia Protected Landscape Conservations Areas Initiative
(NAM-PLACE) is a five-year project,which aims to establish protected landscape conservation areas. It also aims to ensure that land uses in areas adjacent to existing protected areas is compatible with biodiversity conservation objectives and that corridors are established to sustain the viability of wildlife populations.
The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to the tune of US$4.5 million. NAM-PLACE will be implemented jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“The NAMPLACE project is designed to lift conservation barriers and advocates for the establishment of a large scale network of protected landscapes in order to address eminent threats to habitat and species loss at a landscape level, thereby ensuring greater responsiveness to variability and seasonality aspects that are inevitable due to climate change,” says Environment Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
However, setting land aside for conservation without implementing appropriate measures to manage it effectively will not safeguard biodiversity, says Nandi-Ndaitwah.
The ministry therefore continuously explores ways to improve management effectiveness through new initiatives, she said.
Namibia has gained worldwide recognition for its conservation initiatives. The country currently has 20 state-run protected areas which account for 17% of the total land area, while communal conservancies cover over 17% of the land. Private land used for conservation represents slightly over 6% of the country’s land surface.
“A growing demand to create more conservancies across the country is an indication of the Community-Based Natural Resource Management programme’s success. The success on both communal and freehold land can be attributed to incentives derived from the use of natural resources for economic, social and environmental benefits,” Nandi-Ndaitwah says.
The minister adds that despite these achievements, some vegetation types that are not represented in the national parks and the demand for other land uses are on the increase, making opportunities to proclaim more land as protected areas few.
“Furthermore, predictions indicate that some parks are likely to get drier and others wetter due to the effects of climate change. More space would therefore be needed for some species particularly the species that require vast areas to survive. Some species are likely to seek new home ranges due to climate change. In order for the country to prepare itself to these changes, new proactive initiatives to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change are needed,” says Nandi-Ndaitwah.
The NAM-PLACE project is one such initiative. The project has five demonstration sites including the Mudumu Landscape, the Waterberg Plateau, the Windhoek Green Belt landscapes, the Sossusvlei-Namib; and the Fish River Canyon landscapes in the south of the country.

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