WINDHOEK – Efforts are underway to achieve land degradation neutrality (LDN) in Namibia and a pilot project by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on the new global concept started in March this year.
Recently, a one-day meeting on the completion of the land degradation neutrality assessment and the future implementation of LDN in Namibia was held in the country. At the meeting, Deputy Director for Multilateral Environmental Agreements Peter Muteyauli said globally achieving a land degradation neutral world has become the new goal for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). As a result, the concept of LDN was developed in 2012 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) (Rio+20), which (General Assembly Resolution 66/288), inter alia, calls upon member states to “strive to achieve a land degradation neutral world in the context of sustainable development”.
Furthermore, he said, the proposed post-2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include land degradation as Goal 15, and its target 15.3 of the SDGs states: “Protection and promotion of sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems halt desertification, land degradation and biodiversity loss.”
Muteyauli said Namibia as a signatory to the UNCCD has developed its third National Action Programme (NAP3, 2014 to 2024) for the implementation of the UNCCD. The NAP3 takes cognizance of LDN and it has integrated LDN objectives in its targets aimed at reducing land degradation.
“Namibia’s dry climate environment is very sensitive to negative impacts of land degradation, and mitigations to restore degraded land is particularly difficult and is achieved over a long term. However, committing to maintain land degradation in Namibia at a low level is essential to protect the ecosystems that support all aspects of the Namibian economy and the livelihood for its people,” he said.
Namibia has so far completed phases one and two of the LDN project, which was aimed at assessing and identifying different forms of land degradation at a national level and this was done in Omusati and Otjozondjupa regions.
In total, seven sites of land degradation “hotspots” were identified nationally. Natalia Nakashona, an official from the Ministry and Environment and Tourism, who coordinates the project activities at the national level, said the land degradation assessment in Omusati focused on soil organic carbon, which involved coming up with soil organic carbon maps, bush density maps and land cover change maps.
She said that during the process the team which did the assessment and was composed of her, Selma Iipinge (from the same ministry) and Georgina Katjiuongua, faced some challenges.
Nakashona said in Omusati’s Ruacana and Onesi constituencies, roads were poor and inhabitants small in number, and as result, some points were left, while private properties (large fenced-off farms) could not be accessed.
She added that same samples were located either in rocky substrate or hard surface and no samples were thus recorded or only top soil samples were collected.