by Sally Wood, NNF Personnel and Office Manager
The Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF)/Avis Environmental Education Fund has been a remarkable private-civil society partnership spanning over one and a half decades. Established back in 1996, an Environmental Education (EE) Fund was created in collaboration with Avis Rent-a-Car, generating funds through a unique relationship whereby the NNF, in lieu of monthly car rental payments to Avis Rent-a-Car, makes contributions to the EE Fund. To date, more than N$270 000 has been raised for direct EE support across Namibia.
Over the past 15 years, the NNF/ Avis Environmental Education Fund has provided invaluable support to schools and academic institutions for Environmental Education awareness tours across Namibia. Through this partnership, the NNF has implemented well over 100 projects and programmes, reaching students, teachers and trainee student teachers across the length and breadth of the country.
Key objectives outlining the focus and associated support of the partnership are:
• To expose children (and decision-makers/communities) to different parts of the country, cultures and environmental issues;
• To assist children in linking their school curriculum to the world around them;
• To sensitise children to the environment and particularly to environmental degradation;
• To instil a sense of pride in children towards their country, its culture and its natural resources;
• To stimulate debate and discussion on environmental issues and encourage children to become involved in management of the environment;
• To help explain the term ‘environment’ and show that conservation is not only about protecting it, but also about the people who live in it;
• To empower children to make informed decisions about the environment and their own lives in a way that will enhance sustainability and, in turn, improve their standard of living; and
• To enhance environmental awareness.
As well as supporting programmes through the NNF/Avis Environmental Education Fund, the partnership between Avis Rent-a-Car and the NNF has contributed significantly to the NNF, furthering key conservation and sustainable development initiatives across the country through the use of the vehicle.
The NNF has specifically been involved in:
• The development of Park Management and Development Plans for the Namib-Naukluft and Sperrgebiet National parks;
• The development of the co-managed landscape approach in biodiversity conservation – an approach that Namibia is spearheading. This work has been focused on the Ai-Ais/Fish River Canyon area, involving the national park and private-sector partners; the Namib-escarpment area involving the national park and freehold partners working under the theme A Fence-free Namib; and the Waterberg area, involving the national park, a freehold conservancy and four communal conservancies;
• The first comprehensive survey of hippo and crocodile in Namibia, leading to the change in status of crocodiles under the CITES Convention as a result of the demonstrated healthy recovery of crocodiles in Namibia;
• Community-based natural resources management (CBNRM) in Namibia via the communal conservancy programme – there are now 59 registered conservancies in Namibia, with communities earning over N$40 million a year in 2009 and this amount steadily increasing;
• Wildlife monitoring in communal conservancies and testing wildlife monitoring systems. Some six million hectares of communal conservancy land is surveyed by means of fixed-route road counts each year in north-western Namibia. Desert-adapted elephant and rhino populations have more than doubled, while other species have increased greatly, for example springbok- from fewer than 10 000- to 150 000– animals, and gemsbok from about 5 000 to over 40 000;
• Development and implementation of a new approach to fisheries management in the Zambezi–Chobe system. For the first time a viable management system has been developed for the sustainable management of fish in large tropical river and wetland systems in Africa;
• Implementation of trans-boundary- river-basin management in the Okavango and Orange rivers; and most recently
• The hosting of the first-ever giraffe conference in Africa, which was presented next to the Etosha National Park and was attended by experts from across the globe to discuss the dwindling numbers across Africa.
This unique partnership has brought increased awareness and environmental education opportunities to Namibian- scholars for over 15 years. Moreover, the support provided through the use of the vehicle has enabled the NNF to support a range of critical conservation and sustainable development programmes across the country.
We look forward to providing support to the next coastal, desert or savannah field trip for Namibia’s students and hope the partnership will continue even beyond the next 15 years!
This article appeared in the 2012 edition of Conservation and the Environment in Namibia.