The centre piece of the ResMob Project is a TEEB country study, which identifies and valuates some of the ecosystem services vital to meeting the country’s policy priorities and will make recommendations on how policy can most effectively incentivize the maintenance of these services.
The Namibia Nature Foundation, together with Anchor Environmental Consultants are executing the TEEB Namibia country study on behalf of the ResMob Project.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) is an international initiative to draw attention to the benefits provided by biodiversity. It has compiled and synthesised the available evidence to highlight the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services, the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and the benefits of action addressing these pressures. TEEB presents an approach that can help decision makers recognize, demonstrate and, where appropriate, capture the values of ecosystems and biodiversity.
TEEB country studies are split into two phases; first, the scoping phase which is then followed by the main study phase. The scoping phase was covered by the recently prepared report Inventory of Ecosystem Services in Namibia in which the key ecosystem services in Namibia were identified, assessed the trends in the delivery of these ecosystem services and the drivers of change affecting their delivery, and prioritises ecosystem services for mainstreaming into decision-making.
The main phase of a TEEB country study includes the economic valuation of prioritised ecosystem services, including the contribution of ecosystem services to national priority sectors and the costs of overuse and depletion through economic activities. The national TEEB study focuses on conservation areas and tourism, divided into four working packages – three of which focus on differing types forms of land tenure (protected areas, communal conservancies, freehold land), as these make significant contribution and involve ca. 44% of the land.
1. Namibia’s protected area network
Approximately 17% of Namibia is formally protected with national parks being one of the core strategies for biodiversity conservation. Protected areas have a significant value to the national economy; however, they continue to experience substantial underfunding. At present protected areas in Namibia primarily receive funds from the government, donors and park revenue as channelled through the Game Product Trust Fund. Revenues generated by the parks are channelled directly to central government with only a portion of these revenues being reinvested into the management of national parks.
Namibia’s national park entry fees are the lowest in the SADC region. International visitors’ park entrance fees in Namibia are half of what is charged in Botswana, a third of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Zambia.
Therefore, under this work package, a survey will be done at the Hosea Kutako Internationnal Airport, the Etosha National Park, Sossussvlei, Gross Barmen Hot Springs, Waterberg, and the Hardap Resort to determine the willingness-to-pay of park visitors for park entrance to facilitate informed improvements to the park entrance fee system with regard to structure, willingness-to-pay of different user groups, and institutional aspects inter alia.The recommendations made so far are that Namibia needs to update its tariffs and address other institutional issues influencing the efficiency of park revenue systems.
2. Communal Conservancies
Communal conservancies are self-governing, democratic entities, run by their members with fixed boundaries that are agreed with adjacent conservancies, communities or land owners. Conservancies are recognised by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), which has the power to de-register a conservancy if it fails to comply with conservancy regulations. In the past 20 years, 83 conservancies have been established in Namibia accounting for about 20% of the country’s surface area.
In 2015, communal conservancies have generated N$111,232,053 for local communities and created about 5116 jobs. Despite these outcomes, conservancies are facing significant challenges including: increased human wildlife conflict due to human encroachment, organised petty poaching and human encroachment, lack of financial resources and climate change’s exacerbation of the occurrence and severity of droughts.
In order to encourage increased conservation efforts by conservancy members stronger incentives are recommended. As defined by the United Nations Development Programme: “Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) occur when a beneficiary or user of an ecosystem service makes a direct or indirect payment to the provider of that service”. It is rooted in the rationale that those preserving or maintaining an ecosystem service should be compensated for their efforts. Thus, payments are then made by the beneficiary of such services to compensate the provider, conditional on delivery.
In 1998 the first four communal conservancies were gazetted by the MET: Nyae Nyae in the east of Namibia, in former ‘Bushmanland’; Salambala, in the riverine north east, on the border to Bostwana; ≠Khoadi-//Hôas, straddling the border between Kunene north and south in the arid north west; and to the south of it, Torra, spreading westwards towards the Skeleton Coast. These pioneer conservancies established the model for economic survival and growth in harsh rural settings. As legal entities with wildlife utilisation plans they were granted utilization rights to the wildlife, including hunting, whereas before independence, residents on communal land who hunted game were treated as poachers. Through the communal conservancy system hunting on conservancy land is governed by quotas as set by the MET on the basis of annual game counts which are carried out by the Ministry and conservancies, with assistance from NACSO’s Natural Resource Management Working Group. Broadly, hunting falls into two areas: trophy hunting, which generates income to pay for game guards and anti-poaching activities, and meat harvesting, providing a valuable source of protein.
For those conservancies with tourism potential, the right to establish tourism enterprises was executed through joint ventures with the private sector, which provided both financial capital and experience. Overtime wildlife numbers grew and were sustained by conservation measures and as they did lodges found a sure footing in some conservancies, generating income and employment for the conservancies.
Based upon this successful model, other communities have come together to form conservancies, and bringing the number to its current 83. However, not all conservancies have the potential to earn strong income from trophy hunting or tourism as many are on marginal land with little wildlife, but with a strong conservation value to Namibia.
In order to assure the long-term sustainability of the conservancies the incentives to protect wildlife much be strengthened. Based on behavioural economics experiments carried out in Sorris-Sorris, Uibasen-Twyfelfontein and Tsiseb conservancies in the southern Kunene region the NNF/Anchor team has proposed a system by which PES would be linked to the status of biodiversity in the conservancy. Under this proposed initiative communal conservancies would be compensated for their contributions to conservation based upon wildlife counts and habitat assessments.
3. Conservation on private land
Namibia’s success story of increasing wildlife numbers is not only the result of formal protected areas, such as national parks and conservancies, but also the result of conservation efforts in private reserves and on private farms. To sustain and upscale these achievements, this working-package involves estimating the economic value of wildlife use, tourism and other ecosystem services, such as productive rangelands, on freehold land including private reserves and private farms. Furthermore, a specific proposal is expected on how to incentivize the sustainable use of various ecosystem services and rectify existing practices that threaten sustainability of the landscape.
Results from this working package will be based on previous research, as well as surveys and focus groups of freehold land owners and managers that will be informed by on the drivers of current sustainable and unsustainable land-use practices. A focus group held in September brought together various relevant stakeholders representing a wide variety of interests and challenges to discuss key conservation issues on freehold lands and their willingness to accept rangeland management (de-bushing, predator acceptance, fence removal etc.). The outcomes of this discussion assisted with the design and implementation of a survey targeted at freehold farmers to further investigate the feasibility and likely success of the interventions.
The outcomes of the TEEB country study will be used to inform the resource mobilisation strategy on economic and policy instruments, which is the key output of the ResMob project. The study is expected be completed during the first quarter of 2017 with key recommendations addressing institutional issues influencing the efficiency of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services at large.
Download additional information about the study here
Visit the NACSO website for more information on communal conservancies in Namibia.