The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has granted Oskop and Huibes conservancy a joint tourism concession in the Namib Naukluft Park at Farm Sussex. This is based on the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1996 which authorises the Minister to grant concessions in proclaimed protected areas and any other state land, and it is directed by the Tourism and Wildlife Concessions Policy which guides for the fair and transparent awarding of concessions.
The awarding of concessions to local communities supports positive change of the community’s perception of wildlife and protected areas, and thereby contribute directly to nature conservation. “This is part of the Ministry’s contribution towards job creation and poverty alleviation in rural areas. You cannot win conservation without community involvement, empowerment and incentive to run their affairs,” said Jose Kaumba, CBNRM Control Warden in the south.
Concessions have proven to be a strong tool alongside community based natural resource management, and provide a conservation buffer around important and well known protected areas and most importantly derive benefits for people, such as creating opportunities for business development, capacity building and economic empowerment for formerly disadvantaged rural communities through the tourism, hunting and forestry sector.
The award came to the relief of the two conservancies who have expressed gratitude for being chosen to receive the grant. “We are very happy, because it is the first time that we are getting a huge grant like this from the ministry. It shows that the government is really interested in community development as much as in nature conservation and they want to assist us to achieve that as a conservancy”, said Marius Kock, Oskop conservancy game guard.
Huibes and Oskop are part of the six conservancies located in the southern part of the country. Most of the conservancies here have little to no income, with some dependent on shoot and sell of small game, which is not sufficient to cover operational costs and conservancy development. Most conservancy staff, including game guards, managers, secretaries, and treasurers work on a voluntary basis. Despite the shortfalls, they remain optimisic in their work as custodians of the environment.
“Unlike other conservancies, we don’t really have much going on here in terms of income generating activities. Although most of us work on a voluntary basis, protecting our natural resources is very core to us, we are proud of our contribution towards conservation thus far, which is very important to us and future generations,” says Marius.
“With the high unemployment rate in our community, we appreciate the opportunity, and hope that our people will greatly benefit from the job opportunities and empowerment that comes with this prospect. We look forward to working with the investor and learn from them”, said Johannes Schidt, Secretary of Huibes conservancy.