Over the last fifteen years, community-based wildlife management has been an effective mechanism for the Namibian government to combine conservation with developing governance structures to enhance the wildlife resources needed to attract tourism to rural communal areas of Namibia.

In 1996, as a means of creating incentives for sustainable natural resources management in communal areas, the Namibian government introduced legislation that gave communities which formed a management unit called a “conservancy” rights over benefits from wildlife in communal areas. Specifically, conservancies are areas on communal land in which community-based organisations hold rights to manage and benefit from the consumptive and non-consumptive use of wildlife and other natural resources within defined boundaries. By forming conservancies, local communities are able to add sustainable use of wildlife and ecotourism development and indigenous natural product production and processing to their existing land uses and livelihood activities. 

Results of the introduction of conservancies include:
  • increased wildlife populations on conservancy lands
  • devolution of authority over land use management to rural communities
  • generation of employment in tourism enterprises
  • generation of income from indigenous natural products
  • generation of financial benefits for conservancy members
There are now 79 registered conservancies across Namibia, housing 250,000 people. An annual report is produced each year outlining progress, see the NNF Publications section.

NNF's support for CBNRM in Namibia

NNF provides technical assistance and training to a number of conservancies, and has done since the inception of the CBNRM programme in Namibia.
As part of the management committee of NACSO, the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations, and financial manager of NACSO's funds, NNF plays a leading role in the development of this sector. This is an association comprising 14 Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and the University of Namibia. The purpose of NACSO is to provide quality services to rural communities seeking to manage and utilise their natural resources in a sustainable manner and to support strategy and policy development in the sector.