Namibia’s NamibRand Nature Reserve – one of Africa’s largest private reserves – has officially become the world’s latest International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR). Awarded this prestigious title by the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA), the owners of NamibRand now follow suit with other night-sky conservationists worldwide.
Bob Park, the IDSA’s Executive Director, explains: “The night sky over the NamibRand Nature Reserve is exceptional, as are the efforts the managers of the reserve have taken in modifying its lighting for the sake of its wildlife and visitors.”
Achieving this status is a significant accomplishment not only for NamibRand, but also for Namibia and the rest of Africa. NamibRand Nature Reserve is not only the first IDSR in Africa, but also the first in any developing country in the world. NamibRand was awarded a position in the Gold Tier category, which describes reserves with night-time environments that have little or no impact from light pollution and artificial light. NamibRand’s nearest neighbouring communities are small and lie some distance away. Accordingly the sky over the reserve is one of the darkest yet measured.
Regular visiting astronomer at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, George Tucker, who also helped with NamibRand’s application for IDSR status, summed it up succinctly: “I believe that by drawing attention to the importance of preserving the dark skies of Africa we have accomplished something of significance for the NamibRand Nature Reserve, for Namibia, and for the world at large.”
Nils Odendaal, Chief Executive Officer of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, described the importance of receiving the IDSR designation. “The conservation of the night sky and the mitigation of light pollution is an area of conservation in Namibia that, to date, has unfortunately not received much attention. We hope to use our influence as a leader in tourism and conservation – not only in our area, but also on a national level – to change this and raise the awareness of this important environmental concern. We hope that the IDSA designation will generate international support, publicity and targeted research, both for NamibRand and for Namibia as a whole, further reinforcing the country’s leadership role in environmental issues.”
The IDSA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation programme in 2001 to recognise excellent stewardship of the night sky. Designations are based on stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach. Since the programme was initiated, four communities and ten parks have received International Dark Sky Reserve designations.
Originally published on 28 May 2012