Harmonise conservation legislation, expert says
Interesting recognition of the part private game farms and conservancies play in conservation in Namibia.
"There is a need to harmonise legislation which governs protected areas in order to address incompatible land-use practices, said Ben Beytell, director of Parks and Wildlife management at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, at the bi-monthly Park Talk hosted by the Strengthening the Protected Areas Network (SPAN), recently.
Speaking on the evolution of conservation over the past 35 years, Beytell said uncontrolled tourism, illegal trade of wildlife products, incompatible land practices such as mining in the national parks and the slow progress in enacting the Protected Area and Wildlife Management Bill and regulations, are some of the key challenges conservation efforts face currently. According to Beytell, the Bill has been on the table for over a decade, but nothing has been done to pass it into law.
He added that local regulations and policies should also be harmonised with that of neighbouring countries to strengthen transfrontier conservation practices.
Other challenges conservationists face include climate change, human wildlife conflict and human encroachment on protected areas.
Beytell, who has been involved in conservation for over 35 years, urged government to guard against uncontrolled tourism and to prepare for the impact of climate change on protected areas and to establish legal framework for landscape management. The first three conservation areas - which included parts of Etosha and the Naukluft Park - were proclaimed in 1907. Currently there are 20 state-managed protected areas, covering 16.6% of the country. More than 41% of the land is also under sustainable natural resource management, excluding free-hold conservancies and private game reserves.
There are 64 registered conservancies in Namibia at present. Between 1999 and 2011, a total number of 8 034 animals were translocated to conservancies. These translocations, according to Beytell, boost income for conservancies through trophy hunting, hunting for own use and through joint-venture tourism lodges.
In his concluding remarks, Beytell said conservation cannot be restricted to the national parks and that owners of private game parks and free hold farms can assist with biodiversity and should therefore be included in conservation efforts. “Free hold farms and private game farms should get the recognition they deserve as their contribute tremendously to conservation. This is something we need to work on,” he said.
Written by Clemencia Jacobs
FRIDAY, 27 MAY 2011 09:04