Source: https://www.namibiansun.com/news/conservancies-make-a-difference2019-01-17/ Conservancies make a difference Community conservation, encompassing 19% of Namibia's land and over 210 000 rural residents, is contributing to the national economy, rural development and to poverty alleviation. A total of N$7.11 billion has been contributed to Namibia's net national income through community conservation from 1990 to the end of 2017, while the net national income contributed in 2017 was about N$807 million. In comparison, N$2.3 billion has been invested in the conservancy programme since 1990, the bulk of which was donor funding. According to the 2017 State of Community Conservation in Namibia report, community conservation facilitated 5 350 jobs and generated over N$132 million in returns for local communities in 2017. “The total cash income and in-kind benefits generated in conservancies, including the Kyaramacan Association, grew from less than N$1 million in 1998 to more than N$132 million in 2017,” says the report. Of this amount tourism generated N$80 117 and trophy hunting N$32 503. This figure includes meat distributed to conservancy residents, valued at N$12 566. Other indigenous natural products generated N$5 191 and miscellaneous income was N$2 446. The report notes that direct benefit distribution from conservancies to members grew by N$5 million in 2017. “This is largely because conservancies are understanding the wishes of members better, spending proportionally less on management, and ploughing more into benefits in cash and community projects.” Conservancy residents earned a total cash income of N$65 828 from enterprise wages, of which N$42 081 was from joint-venture tourism, N$18 861 from conservancies, N$3 558 from trophy hunting and N$1 326 from SMEs. According to the report conservancy residents earned cash income of N$4 632 from indigenous plants and N$1 429 from crafts. A total of N$16 159 was distributed to residents and used to support community projects. According to the report there were 83 registered communal conservancies in 2017, where over 200 000 rural residents were benefiting from the wildlife-based economy. There are also 32 community forests in the country, most of which overlap conservancies and are jointly managed, and one community association located inside the Bwabwata National Park: the Kyaramacan Association. This community association is constituted and works like a conservancy. A total of 163 151 square kilometres of land was encompassed by the 83 communal conservancies at the end of 2017. This represents 52.9% of all communal land in Namibia and 19.8% of Namibia's total land area. At the same time, 32 community forests covering an area of 30 828 square kilometres had been gazetted. Of these, 18 overlap with conservancies. The area covered by conservancies and community forests has rapidly grown to 166 267 square kilometres, which is 53.2% of all communal land. At the end of 2017, there were an estimated 212 092 people living in conservancies, with another 6 170 members of the Kyaramacan Association living in Bwabwata National Park. Of this area, conservancies manage 163 151 square kilometres, which comprises 19.8% of Namibia, while community forests cover 30 828 square kilometres, of which 89.9% overlaps with conservancies. “At independence in 1990, there were no registered community conservation areas, freehold conservancies did not exist, and a mere 14% of land was under recognised conservation management,” the report states.