Learners leave Waterberg with a new appreciation for biodiversity

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WATERBERG

Gobabeb Research and Training Centre successfully organised and ran the sixth Youth Environmental Summit, co-funded by the German government’s cooperation agency,GIZ, Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and Gobabeb Centre, focusing on biodiversity and sustainable development that took place at Waterberg Plateau Park last month.

The YES group consisted of 27 learners and four teachers from Oshikoto, Otjozondjupa, Omusati, Ohangwena, and Khomas regions. The one-week training programme was planned and executed by staff from Gobabeb, assisted by Gobabeb alumni conducting post-graduate research in the Waterberg area. The learners were split into three groups to carry out research projects on bush encroachment, tourism, and rangeland management,  connecting their individual projects to the overall theme of biodiversity and sustainable development.  Each group went into the field to conduct interviews, do game counts, complete vegetation transects, and determine species diversity throughout the Waterberg area.

The groups visited private farms, communal land, water points, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and the Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) lodge to conduct their research.  The YES group also received several lectures including a talk on bush encroachment and climate change from Professor Heather Throop, a professor from New Mexico State University currently working on a Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant at the Polytechnic.  The week of outdoor learning culminated in an excellent set of presentations at the celebration of International Biodiversity Day at the NWR lodge at Waterberg on May 23.  Over 150 people attended the event from organisations across Namibia including Africat, Cheetah Conservation Fund, the National Museum, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and more.  The programme included several talks from the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Tommy Nambahu; the representative from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Konrad Uebelhoer; Special Advisor to the Office of the Governor of Otjozondjupa,  Rosalia Mwashekele-Sibiya; a representative from UNITED Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Niko Willemse; and Executive Director of the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, Dr. Gillian Maggs-Kölling.

The YES learners enjoyed the event and learned a lot from their weeklong programme.  One learner stated that she learned “more about Waterberg: that it is a very beautiful and unique place because of its landscape, plants, and animal species.”  Another learner particularly enjoyed “meeting other young people with similar interests, such as conserving natural resources.” Yet another learner stated that “I learned that our biological life here in Namibia is very diverse, and that its sustainability depends on us young people through our ability to educate each other.” Overall, the sixth YES was a huge success, and the Gobabeb staff is already looking forward to the next Summit.

CAPTIONS:

Youth Environmental Summit (YES) learners act like tourists in their role play during the celebration of the International Day on Biodiversity at the Waterberg Plateau Park last month.

Picture: Yes 1

Article and pictures contributed

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