The values of the Namib Desert include its biodiversity and beautiful landscapes, values that are key for tourism and conservation. Some desert ecosystems, such as the gravel plains of the Central Namib are very sensitive to disturbance, and natural recovery is extremely slow and cumulative. Increasingly intensified disturbance by off-road driving, exploration and mining, as well as large film projects have brought the question of surface scars and their rehabilitation into sharp focus.
The UNCCD 10-year strategy includes the need for rehabilitation of degraded land, and is an important component also relating to climate change adaptation. In the Namib Desert, the Strategic Environmental Assessment of Coastal Areas, as well as of the Uranium Rush and the associated Strategic Environmental Management Programmes, provide a framework for managing impacts so as to prevent irreversible ecosystem damage and for rehabilitating the impacts. However, while environmental policies and legislation are not yet very clear on managing degradation and rehabilitation, there are opportunities for practical experience to provide relevant feedback for this.
Rehabilitation requires commitments from government, industry, land managers and the public to follow best practise, and by restoration scientists and technicians to address the problem. It is envisaged that rehabilitation follows adaptive management approaches, including setting goals, indicators by which the environmental conditions are determined, and rehabilitation interventions with recognised methods for approaching the goals as monitored with visual and ecological indicators.
An Ecological Restoration and Monitoring Unit is being planned in Namibia to test methods and help set standards based on sound environmental principles with inputs from affected persons, government, industry, rehabilitation technicians, and scientists. Rehabilitation practice needs to be related more strongly to policies, regulations, and acts. This development is outlined with several case studies relating to agriculture, mining and filming projects, with emphasis how this contributes to the UNCCD strategy.
Speakers will address rehabilitation in relation to agricultural, mining and filming projects with an overall synthesis to connect this to goals of Environmental Management, particularly of Namibia's coastal regions.