CONSERVANCIES have contributed N$5 billion to the country's net income since 1999, despite challenges they continue to face.
Environment and tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said the conservancies made the money between 1999 and 2015. There are 83 registered conservancies in Namibia.
Muyunda was responding to questions by The Namibian last week on allegations that conservancies were taking up too much land.
Of the 83 conservancies in the country, 36 are in the Kunene region and 15 in the Zambezi.
Muyunda said all conservancies, which are supposed to operate along commercial lines, generated N$102 million for the local communities, and created 5 116 jobs in 2015.
He said conservancies support wildlife recoveries and environmental restoration, and this has also resulted in the growth of the elephant population, which has grown from 7 500 to 22 000 since 1995.
The Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (Nacso)'s director, Maxi Pia Louis, pointed out that conservancies also face challenges when it comes to grazing for both wildlife and livestock.
Louis said this is worsened by illegal fencing, lack of rangeland management, overgrazing, lack of livestock management and illegal grazing.
She said illegal fencing prevents lawful members of the traditional community from accessing collective resources such as firewood, water, veld foods, medicines, fruits, building materials and grazing.
"It also obstructs the free movement of wildlife, which is so necessary (because of erratic rainfall in Namibia) for conservancies to optimise wildlife populations.
"Few illegal fences have been removed, but it continues to grow as a problem," said Louis.
The director also pointed out that illegal grazing is disadvantaging members of the traditional community, and is undermining the traditional authorities.