Ecosystem services are the key foundation of most socio-economic activities in our societies. Namibia largely depends on land for most of its economic activities with sectors such as agriculture and tourism being the directly linked to land. It is crucial for all components in an ecosystem to maintain a balance to ensure optimal functions of that ecosystem. Most of the land used for agriculture and tourism in Namibia is also faced by bush encroachment that has reduced the productivity of such areas and it is estimated to have affected an area of 30 million hectares.
The Economics of Land Degradation (ELD), an initiative based on the economic benefits of ecosystems, conducted a regional ELD assessment undertaken by the Namibia Nature Foundation with assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry and the GIZ De-bushing Project. The study gives the prospects of a programme for bush thinning at regional and national scale. The regional study focused on the Otjozondjupa region which is the fourth largest region in Namibia and had recorded an encroachment density of 25000 individual bushes per hectare, dominated by Acacia mellifera and Terminalia sericea encroacher species.
The economic assessment was conducted to quantify and value various key ecosystem services and land use options that are threatened by bush encroachment, but could potentially generate benefits to Namibia’s welfare.
Bush thinning and restoration of ecosystems in encroached areas has a lot of potential with direct benefits on the livestock and the tourism sector, as well as the energy production and income generation. Thus the study recommends various strategies from all sectors to bring out the maximum potential value of bush control in the country. Such strategies have to be implemented from a natural resource economics perspective to ensure the benefits of the environment and that of the people.