By Staff Reporter
N≠a-Jaqna in Tsumkwe west has become the first conservancy to become a community forest. The community there recently voted overwhelmingly for the integrated management of the animals and forest resources in their area.
New Era understands that many more will follow this model. Conservancies need to hold AGMs for their members to decide.
The decision was made at the recent N≠a-Jaqna conservancy annual general meeting where a vast majority of community representatives opted for the joint management of the conservancy and the community forest.
Communal area conservancies and community forests are core components of the Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme but the two components are managed in isolation from each other.
Conservancies concentrate on the promotion of wildlife and tourism, while community forests focus on the protection and sustainable use of natural resources.
A statement from the German Development Service (DED) said that this week a regional working group consisting of support organisations and members of the already existing management committees would draft a joint constitution that unites the formerly separated projects and lay the foundation for co-management.
The statement said the integration marks a big step in integrated natural resource management.
The existing conservancy area south of the C44 road to Tsumkwe is now called a joint N≠a-Jaqna Conservancy/Community Forest.
In the past, the two community-based management models were developed individually according to different procedures and different rights and responsibilities, which made cooperation difficult and especially to distribute the benefits equally.
“With the merging of gazetted and emerging community forests with the conservancy territory these hindrances will be overcome in favour of a joint integrated management,” said Jana Arnold, Public Relations Officer of DED.
Joining community forests and conservancies for the benefit of integrated natural resource management became possible with the latest extension of the community forestry programme of the Directorate of Forestry. Since wildlife management stringently needs habitat management, both cannot be managed separately but need the joint initiative of all forces of resource management.
In future, other areas are expected to follow the N≠a-Jaqna example and the “Community Forestry in Namibia” supports the integration process by providing the respective funds.
Namibia has 13 gazetted community forests and more than 30 emerging ones.
The number is growing as the country enters the third phase of the community forestry programme that is directed towards integration of conservancies and communal forests.