17 January 2013

Namibia Looking At Its First Human and Biosphere Reserve

A STUDY has been launched to determine if the Mudumu North Complex in the eastern part of Caprivi can be declared Namibia's first Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB).

The Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) recently received money from the United Nations Scientific, Cultural and Educational Organisation (Unesco) to do the feasibility study.

Chris Thompson, the natural resources economist at NNF, told The Namibian yesterday that the organisation received US$25 000 from Unesco for the study, to determine the costs and benefits of such a reserve.

Other issues that the study will establish are the governance and institutional arrangements of such an initiative.

The area includes Mashi, Mayuni, Sobbe and Kwando conservancies, the Bwabwata and Mudumu national parks and commercial enterprises.

Thompson said once the study is completed, NNF will make recommendations to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on the way forward.

If this area is made a Man and Biosphere Reserve, it will be the first in Namibia.

Thompson said if more funds are made available, areas such as NamibRand could also be turned it into a Man and Biosphere Reserve.

Unesco's Man and Biosphere Reserve programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme aimed to set a scientific basis for the improvement of the relationships between people and their environmental globally.

Launched in the 1970s, it proposes interdisciplinary research agenda and capacity building that target the ecological and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and the reduction of this loss. The programme's World Network of Biosphere Reserves counts 610 biosphere reserves in 177 countries around the world.

A biosphere reserve is defined as an area of land or water that is protected by law in order to support the conservation of ecosystems as well as the sustainability of people's impact on the environment.

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