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Business and Enterprise
© Gareth Bentley/WWF 2015
Conservancy Tourism Partnerships

Since the start of the conservancy programme, tourism has been central to its success in sustainable development and conservation results in Namibia. Through partnerships with the tourism sector, communal conservancies can generate meaningful income that pays for wildlife protection, provides jobs, and contributes to social development projects.

Joint venture partnerships with the private sector secure significant capital, the management expertise, and the tourism market for the conservancies. The conservancy, which has the legal mandate and manages its wildlife resources, provides the land, and protects its wildlife. The fees generated from tourism also contribute to the costs of conservancies that include game guards and area representatives. Before the COVID 19 pandemic in 2019, the conservancy programme generated N$ 11 million (US$ 6 million) from tourism p.a. and secured over 1,200 full-time local jobs and 1,100 part-time jobs. 

WWF Namibia, with its partners, provides technical support that includes contract negotiations, benefit-sharing, tourism planning, legal services, product development, business planning and training.  Now more than ever, the services provided by WWF are critical in assisting local partners and conservancies to recover from the devastating impact of COVID 19 on the tourism sector.  

To find out more about conservancy tourism, visit https://conservationtourism.com.na/.

Wildlife Credits

For conservation to endure and species to thrive, innovative ideas are needed that create solutions that allow rural communities to capitalise on and protect their competitive advantage in the world: their wildlife. 

WWF Namibia, with our partners, responded to this need by developing an additional income stream for conservancies called Wildlife Credits. This is a conservation performance payment for eco-system services product that reward communities for verifiable conservation results.  Wildlife Credits ensure that payments go directly to the wildlife stewards who incur the costs of living with wildlife.  The mechanism also creates sustainable protection for wildlife in such a way that it decreases the dependency on tourism and hunting fees for the protection. 

Wildlife Credits products include annual performance payments for wildlife corridors, wildlife sightings, and community tolerance for living with lions. The concept is also evolving with the addition of performance payments for conservation areas being set aside for wildlife.  WWF is working with partners to pilot the use of new technology to monitor and verify conservation results that will trigger performance payments.  There is also the Biodiversity app being piloted with unemployed youth in conservancies.  The youth use the app to record species, creating positive conservation results, and inspiring the next generation of conservation stewards. 

WWF Netherlands has been a long-time financial supporter of Wildlife Credits. We have also received support from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) via WWF Germany and the Lion Recovery Fund Wildlife Conservation Network.

COVID Relief and Recovery

In good times, joint venture tourism operations, community craft projects and conservation hunting are income generators for conservancies and pay the conservation costs, including the deployment of the game guards. But then the COVID pandemic struck and affected the income streams of all the conservancies. In response to the devastating economic impact caused by the pandemic, the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) launched the Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilience Facility (CRRRF) to ensure a coordinated response to the crisis. 

CRRRF also provided financial assistance for the local tourism employees through an emergency grant process for joint-venture lodges. Joint venture partnerships received support for 50% of the salaries, with half of that being repayable in the event of survival and return to agreed operational capacity. The repayments are targeted for future re-investment into the CBNRM programme. 

The CRRRF has received support from the Community Conservation of Fund Namibia, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia, United Nations Development Programme, Nedbank Namibia, Namibia Nature Foundation, B2Gold, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, Namibian Chamber of Environment, The Nature Conservancy, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, KfW Development Bank (KfW), and Tourism Supporting Conservation Trust. 

Conservancy Business Planning

In rural Namibia, where there are limited socio-economic opportunities, communal conservancies are critical to development. To fully unlock the opportunities, WWF Namibia has developed a planning and monitoring tool that assists conservancies in developing sustainable nature-based business.  With our partners, we help conservancies consider what strategic direction they want to take and determine whether the “Conservancy business” is financially viable. Conservancies are then supported to align their long-term business vision, purpose, and targets with the reality of income opportunities and expenditure needs (i.e., operational costs, capital costs and benefit distribution).

The outcome is designed to ensure a sustainable business environment that provides the consumer with products and services, and conservancy members with job creation and opportunities to cover costs of conservation, while keeping the operational costs low and benefit distribution high.

Conservation Leveraging Agribusiness in the Zambezi Region (CoLAB)

WWF Namibia is working with our partners in the Zambezi region, namely Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation and Namibia Nature Foundation, to ensure that support to farmers promotes individual income generation whilst ensuring biodiversity, habitat conservation, and retaining the wildlife connectivity dispersal areas that are fundamental to the integrity of KAZA.  

The project approach is to enter the agribusiness value chain at the point of marketing and distribution by identifying possible private sector partners to provide the financing, technical skill, and marketing. It also aims to recognise people living in conservancies who have agreed to take responsibility for conservation by purchasing local goods.

Combining agricultural production with nature-positive, conservation-friendly standards and practices allows for building a solid nature-based brand, opening opportunities for premium pricing, whilst achieving positive conservation outcomes. Introducing and supporting agribusiness can also add value to raw materials, strengthen the local rural economics, help with food security and nutrition, and improve the quality of life in many homes at risk of exclusion and vulnerability.

Both the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) and COmON Foundation projects are supporting these new initiatives. 

© Gareth Bentley/WWF 2015