Fin funds help debushing
The Cheetah Conservation Fund said this week a grant from the Embassy of Finland will help them to improve the livelihoods of inhabitants of the Greater Waterberg Landscape by creating a de-bushing enterprise. While bush encroachment is a serious problem for both livestock and wildlife in this region, it can be harvested and used to produce other products. “Harvesting bush provides the opportunity to increase the amount of grazing land while producing a resource that can be sold, and also restore the natural habitat for wildlife. This involves assisting the inhabitants in business development and organisation, and providing a sustainable source of income through purchase of the harvested bush.”
The Greater Waterberg Landscape comprises several conservancies and commercial farms that fall within the Okakarara constituency. The Greater Waterberg Landscape covers over 18,700km2 and is home to approximately 25,000 people. The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) has worked with these communities since 1991 to conserve the cheetah in the wild. CCF said it is committed to assisting and implementing developmental projects that will benefit the community, satisfy the needs of the people and assist in the progression of the region.
CCF recently completed a needs assessment survey for the area as a project of the Namibia Protected Landscape Conservation Areas Initiative (NAMPLACE), a UNDP/GEF five-year development initiative. Ninety-nine percent of survey respondents cited livestock as their primary income. Yet due to several factors, bush has inundated the veld in the Waterberg district, and is intensifying livestock overgrazing by reducing the amount of available grazing lands. It is also contributing to the displacement of wildlife that once flourished in the area. Bush encroachment is the largest problem with the veld according to survey respondents.
CCF will assist the GWL in organising the de-bushing enterprise. This will include training and assistance in small business enterprise development, training in appropriate de-bushing techniques, and arts and crafts production training sessions utilising a portion of the harvested bush.