GEF: People for wildlife: conservation unbound in Namibia
Namibia is a land of other-worldly landscapes of breath-taking scale and splendour. With a dramatic geological past, and an arid climate shaped by the effects of the frigid Benguela ocean current which sweeps along its coastline, this sparsely-populated country in the southwest of Africa is home to a wide array of largely-rural peoples, rich biodiversity, and unique ecosystems. It harbours the oldest desert in the world, impressive arrays of rock art which stand as cultural monuments to the San who occupied this land for centuries, desert-adapted elephants, the largest free-ranging herd of black rhinoceros in the world, and an astonishing abundance of other wildlife.
Namibia has established a network of national parks and other protected areas that forms the cornerstone of efforts to conserve the country’s remarkable wildlife and other biodiversity, and serves as the engine that drives rural development. Game parks and conservancies are the centrepiece of the country’s tourism industry, which is the mainstay of Namibia’s economic development. Wildlife is not restricted to these protected areas, however, and in most parts of Namibia people and wild animals co-exist in shared landscapes.
Namibia is working to take conservation beyond traditional boundaries to prevent loss of biodiversity, reduce human-wildlife conflicts, and avoid land degradation and consequent economic decline. With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and other partners, the Namibian Government is working to lift conservation barriers and advocate for the establishment of a large-scale network of protected landscapes in which landowners and conservation authorities work together to manage ecosystems at a large scale. Three UNDP-supported projects between 2004 and the present – amounting to a GEF investment of some US$17 million — have built on each other to unlock the potential of Namibia’s protected areas, while contributing to social development.