Experts to address deteriorating Namibian rangelands today

by Deon Schlechter

Experts to address deteriorating Namibian rangelands today

Windhoek

World renowned experts will as from today deliver presentations on the delicate subject of nursing the fragile Namibian rangelands to greater health again at the start of the 20th National Rangeland Forum (NRF) at Heja Game Lodge. The forum will last until Friday and is aimed at another step in Namibia’s intention to restore its valuable rangelands at a whopping cost of some N$30 billion over the next 20 years.

Presentations will come from Leon Lubbe, chief agricultural scientific officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry; Dr. Richard Fynn, rangeland expert from Botswana; Colin Nott, 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. Namibia’s National Rangeland Policy is regarded by many observers as a groundbreaking project, which has earned the respect of role players on international podiums. it is viewed as an example of a government committed to the rehabilitation of degraded land and water bodies by 2030.

The project was implemented in 2012 and is committed to the promotion and maintenance of the welfare of the people by adopting policies aimed at maintaining ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity and utilising living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians.

Some 70 percent of the population is dependent on its rangelands for their well-being. The current poor state of Namibia’s rangelands is due to erosion, overgrazing, bush encroachment, and drastic decline of carrying capacity of the land. This situation negatively influences the livelihoods of a large portion of the Namibian nation, profitability of livestock farming and the whole economy in general with a possible figure of N$ 1.4 billion per annum lost.

It is expected that 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 the 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 shall be on our way to achieve optimal sustainable production per ha because we have improved the nutrient cycle, 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 Lubbe.

This will mean biodiversity have been improved since Namibia have applied correct utilisation of key plants, adequate recovery time for utilised plants, 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 are hosting the Forum.

It will include field trip to two farms: Krumhuk (Ulf Voigts) and Smalhoek (Helmut Stehn). For more information about the forum and how to register the website – www.nrmps.org – and on the Facebook page – www.facebook.com/nrmps2015.

You can also contact the Rangeland Coordinating Unit at marie@agrinamibia.com.na, 061 237838, for more information about the forum. A detailed agenda will be published closer to the Forum.

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