Experts to address deteriorating rangelands

by Deon Schlechter

Experts to address deteriorating rangelands

Windhoek

Namibia’s intention to restore its valuable rangelands at a whopping cost of some N$30 billion over the next 20 years will take a another giant leap from September 13 to 15 when the 20th National Rangeland Forum (NRF) will be held at Heja Game Lodge.
World-renowned experts will deliver presentations on the delicate subject of nursing the fragile Namibian rangelands back to greater health.

Presentations will come from Leon Lubbe, chief agricultural scientific officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Dr Richard Fynn, a rangeland expert from Botswana, Colin Nott, an expert in communal rangeland management and Ben Norton, Emeritus associate Professor at Utah State University.



This will be followed by a discussion session moderated by local rangeland guru Bertus Kruger from AgraProvision.
Many observers regard Namibia’s National Rangeland Policy as a groundbreaking project, which has earned the respect of role players on international podiums and is viewed as an example of a government committed to the rehabilitation of degraded land.

The policy is also regarded as government’s commitment to protecting water bodies.
The project was implemented in 2012 and aims to promote and sustain the welfare of the people by adopting policies aimed at maintaining ecosystems, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and utilising living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all citizens.

Some 70 percent of the population is dependent on its rangelands for their wellbeing. The current poor state of Namibia’s rangelands is due to erosion, overgrazing, bush encroachment, and a drastic decline in the carrying capacity of the land.

The situation negatively affects the livelihoods of a large portion of the Namibian population, the profitability of livestock farming, and the whole economy in general, with an estimated N$1.4 billion lost per annum.

It is expected there will be a 30 percent drop in the production of course grains by 2030 in southern Africa. This highlights the important role of livestock in future. All the guiding principles of sound rangeland management will have to be implemented to secure success.

“If this is done, then hopefully the rehabilitation of degraded land and water bodies should be at declining rates by 2030, which means that we shall be on our way to achieving optimal sustainable production per hectare, because we have improved the nutrient cycle and improved the water cycle.

“The vulnerability of users to the variable resource base have been reduced, because we have in a timely and flexible way adjusted animal numbers to available fodder resources and in a timely way made provision for drought situations,” says Leon Lubbe.

This will mean biodiversity has improved since Namibia has applied correct utilisation of key plants and allowed adequate recovery time for utilised plants, as well as reclamation of denuded rangelands, erosion control and managing rangelands for heterogeneity, rather than for homogeneity.

The Coordinating Unit for the National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy (NRMPS), in collaboration with Agra ProVision and Conservation Agriculture Namibia, confirmed that the forum will be held over three days, from September 13 to 15. It will include a field trip to two farms: Krumhuk of Ulf Voigts and Smalhoek of Helmut Stehn. A detailed agenda will be published closer to the forum.

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