CBNRM: the right balance
Many rural communities in Namibia live together with wildlife. In order to offset losses from crop raiders such as elephants and predators, including lions, they need to receive benefits in return. These come from tourism and associated income, including crafts, and from conservation hunting. Through Community Based Natural Resource Management, natural resources are conserved for future generations while providing significant returns today.
The effect of climate change
In future, agriculture will carry a higher risk due to increasing drought and episodic flooding. Economic diversification to include the sustainable use of indigenous resources such as wildlife, which is drought-resilient, and naturally occurring indigenous plants, can mitigate the impact.
A complementary land use
The loss of habitat to other land uses is one of the prevalent threats for wildlife in Africa. Large-scale agriculture and widespread prospecting and mining are threatening wildlife habitats in parts of Namibia. This may benefit some sectors of the economy, but can disadvantage the rural poor. Such developments may be countered if natural resource use is recognised as a viable complementary land use by all sectors of the national economy, so that its true value can be realised.
Wildlife as a driver of economic growth
Wildlife is central to generating returns for conservancies. Game has a range of high-value uses and many species are able to breed quickly, allowing for rapid wildlife recoveries in areas with suitable habitat. By turning wildlife use into a viable livelihood activity, and complementing it with other natural resource uses, community conservation can make a meaningful difference to the lives of rural people. As private sector engagement in community conservation broadens, more opportunities will continue to open up.
Emphasising equitable resource use
Conservancies have enabled equitable natural resource use, which did not exist prior to their formation. Joint-venture lodges and conservation hunting concessions are based on formal agreements, which oblige operators to share profits and to employ and train local staff. In return, conservancies provide eco-services such as the management of wildlife habitat and anti-poaching activities, which benefit the private sector.