Biodiversity Endangered

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Namibia’s population, poor land management and land use practices continue to cause the loss of biodiversity in large areas of the country. During the commemoration of the International Biodiversity Day yesterday, Minister of Environment and Tourism Willem Konjore acknowledged that the current land use practices pose a long-term threat to the natural resources on which most lives depend. This is further exacerbated by other environmental and economic challenges the country is facing. The newly launched publication on biodiversity and development in Namibia reveals that although the country has a good record in protected areas, it is important to note that many indigenous and endemic species occur in semi-natural areas in other parts of the country. While there is a great need for development to take place, little attention has been placed on the impact that this development has on biodiversity. Given that, there is a need to intensify awareness among communities. The report further suggests that key decision-makers both at the policy and implementation levels get provided with key information to enable them to address biodiversity issues in a sustainable development context of Namibia. Efforts need to be concentrated on developing and supporting existing capacities of farmers, natural resource users and managers, community groups and other relevant decision-making bodies, the report suggests. According to Konjore, people have destroyed many fragile eco-systems and in the process have forced many species to extinction and even threatened human survival on planet earth. However, efforts have been made in maintaining biodiversity in Namibia over the past decade. The country in its constitution makes provisions for the active promotion and maintenance of eco-systems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity, as well as the utilization of natural resources. “The article (article 95 <1>) puts Namibia in the frontline in terms of biodiversity as Namibia is thereby one of the few countries which have biodiversity conservation, use and management embedded in their constitutions,” Konjore stated. In response to the threat of biodiversity loss, the Namibia National Biodiversity Programme (NNBP) was established in 1994. Through this programme, efforts aimed at building public and political awareness, coordinating and strengthening biodiversity activities have been placed. Activities relevant to the better understanding of the underlying causes of biodiversity loss have also been implemented. Efforts continue to be made to ensure that all Namibians understand biodiversity. Yesterday saw the launch of yet another publication: Biodiversity and Development, Contributions to Sustainable Development: Biodiversity Management in Namibia – A Decade of Interventions. This publication according to Konjore is particularly targeted at people who are not necessarily experts in biodiversity management, the broad public, political decision makers, donors and the youth. Though the ministry continues to create awareness about biodiversity, the minister expressed doubt that the concept and its significance is known and understood. Most rural people depend directly on biodiversity and biological resources for their livelihoods and freedom from poverty. While Namibia strives to support the conservation of biodiversity, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) representative Christiane Kalle assured the organization’s continued support for programmes on biodiversity. This year, the day was commemorated under the theme “loss of biodiversity in dry land areas and making people aware of sustainable biodiversity”. The theme is perceived as relevant to Namibia, given her dry conditions.