05 November 2009
For further information, please contact:
NACSO/WWF in Namibia
P.O. Box 9681 Eros
19 Lossen Street
Tel: (+ 264) 61 239945
Fax: (+ 264) 61 239799
Namibia is recognised as a global example for natural resource management
Namibia has for decades pursued an innovative course in the management of its natural resources,
including the sustainable use of wildlife. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism (MET) has facilitated
this innovation, supported by numerous NGOs and, importantly, rural communities in both the
communal and commercial farmlands of the country. The basis for success was created by policy
changes that provide rights to rural communities to use the natural resources, and particularly game, in
their area. Private land owners already began to benefit from these changes in the 1960s and 70s, and
rapid wildlife recoveries on commercial farms have been the result.
After independence, the MET strove to empower rural people in communal areas with equal rights by
registering communal conservancies. The remarkable restoration of wildlife that has occurred in most
communal areas over the last decade has been facilitated by a sense of ownership over the resources
and direct benefits from managing them. Commercial farmers have had a considerable head start in
managing their natural resources, yet communal conservancies are taking the lead in applying large
landscape conservation and safeguarding a Namibian environmental identity by conserving indigenous
species in large, unfenced areas. This is providing genuine Namibian tourism and hunting products that
are rapidly growing in popularity.
Rare and endangered species such as black rhino and black-faced impala, as well as a score of more
common species, are being translocated from national parks to registered communal conservancies and
private reserves around Namibia, signifying real government trust in the natural resource management
capacities of communities and underlining the success of Namibian conservation efforts. It is not easy to
find similar examples from around the world where such successful translocations and range expansions
of rare species are taking place.
While Namibians themselves often do not realize the significance of the country’s conservation
achievements and considerable criticism continues to be levelled at the CBNRM programme, and while
not everyone is seeing the big picture advantages of large landscape conservation and joint natural
resource management, the international community has become well aware of how important such
developments in Namibia are. Wildlife continues to decline in most parts of Africa and around the globe.
Habitat degradation and loss to other land uses has been one of the key contributors. Conservationists
from the steppes of Mongolia to the forests of Ghana to the Northern Great Plains of the United States
are now looking to Namibia for lessons to apply back home.
Working together with WWF, the Nebraska-based Grassland Foundation, seeking to implement
innovative ways of uniting the well-being of people with the conservation of native grasslands, looked to
Namibia’s successes to help formulate their own solutions. WWF and the Grassland Foundation began
organising study tours to Namibia in 2007, allowing people to learn first-hand how the Namibian model
is working. The latest tour arrived in June 2009, when a group of Great Plains ranchers spent ten days in
Namibia, visiting a variety of places in both freehold and communal lands. The group spent time with
local farmers, tourism and hunting establishments and listened to presentations by the Namibian
Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO), the Conservancy Association of Namibia
(CANAM), the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA), Wilderness Safaris, the Namibia
Nature Foundation (NNF) and WWF in Namibia.
The importance of these learning journeys has now been officially recognized by Travel + Leisure
Magazine (T+L), a renowned international publication with a US circulation of close to a million copies
per issue, which ‘explores the places, ideas and trends that define modern global culture’. T + L hands
out a variety of awards each year, ranging from ‘America’s Favourite Cities’ through the ‘T+L Design
Awards’ to the ‘It List: Best New Hotels’. Amongst the most prestigious awards are the ‘Global Vision
Awards’ which are presented with the slogan ‘Here’s to those who make a difference’ and recognise the
outstanding efforts of individuals and organisations that are working to preserve the world's natural and
The Northern Great Plains Restoration Project of the Grassland Foundation and WWF was recognised as
one of those who do make a difference, receiving a 2009 Global Vision Award in the category Wildlife
Tourism. Other 2009 award recipients from a total of 17 winners include the Rainforest Alliance from
the US in the category Eco Certification, Walt Disney Worldwide in the category Corporate Sustainability,
Ecoventura from the Galapagos Islands in the category Green Cruising, Koiyaki Guiding School from
Kenya in the category Community Empowerment and Vane Farm Sanctuary from Scotland in the
category Habitat Restoration.
Dr. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist, Columbia University professor and chair of the
Committee on Global Thought, remarked ‘The Northern Great Plains project is an impressive example of
America learning from best practices abroad.’ Those best practices happen to be found in Namibia, an
arid country in southern Africa with few people and a lot of good ideas.