National Report of Namibia for COP7


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National Report prepared for the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

 Implementation of the Ramsar Convention in general, and of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 1997-2002 in particular, during the period since the National Report was prepared in 1995 for Ramsar COP6

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Contracting Party Namibia
Designated Ramsar Administrative Authority  
Full name of the institution Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Name and title of the head of the institution Minister N. Malima
Mailing address for the head of the institution Private Bag 13346, Windhoek, Namibia.
Telephone +264-61-2842111
Fax +264-61-229936
E-mail None
Name and title (if different) of the designated contact officer for Ramsar Convention matters Mr Holger Kolberg, Principal Conservation Scientist
Mailing address (if different) for the designated contact officer Private Bag 13306, Windhoek, Namibia.
Telephone +264-61-263131
Fax +264-61-259101

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 1
To progress towards universal membership of the Convention.

1.1 Describe any actions your government has taken (such as hosting regional or subregional meetings/consultations, working cooperatively with neighbouring countries on transfrontier wetland sites) to encourage others to join the Convention.

Namibia and South Africa jointly manage the Orange River Mouth Ramsar site. Regular meetings are held between the two countries to discuss various issues concerning the site, and to draft the management plan. A transboundary reserve is planned for the site.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 2
To achieve the wise use of wetlands by implementing and further developing the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines.

2.1 Has a National Wetland Policy/Strategy/Action Plan been developed, or is one being developed or planned for the near future? If so:

a. What are/will be its main features?

b. Was it, or is it, intended that the Policy/Strategy/Action Plan be adopted by the whole of Government, the Minister responsible for Ramsar matters or through some other process. Please describe.

c. How does it relate/will it relate to other national environmental/ conservation planning initiatives (e.g., National Environmental Action Plans, National Biodiversity Action Plans, National Conservation Strategies)?

There are two policies which are directly relevant to wetlands in Namibia. Firstly, the policy on "Land-use planning: towards sustainable development" of May 1994. This includes a section on wetland systems which states the policy of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as follows: "to encourage the rational and integrated planning of wetland systems, in accordance with the philosophies of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands, based on the ecological principles of preservation of biotic diversity, maintenance of life support systems and sustainable use". Secondly, the policy on "Conservation of biotic diversity and habitat protection" of May 1994 makes it the policy of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to ensure adequate protection of ecosystems, including wetlands. An explicit national wetland policy is under preparation. Many wetland species are the subject of general conservation policies.

2.2 If a policy is in place, how much progress has been made in its implementation, and what are the major difficulties being encountered in doing so?

The major constraint with regard to the above mentioned policies is that they are only the policy of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and hence do not apply to other government ministries. This constraint will largely be addressed in the draft Environmental Management Act.

2.3 If a Policy/Strategy/Action Plan is in place, is the responsibility for implementing it with :

a. a single Government Ministry,
b. a committee drawn from several Ministries, or
c. a cross-sectoral committee?

The responsibility for implementing the above policies is spread amongst the different directorates of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Primary responsibility would lie with the Directorate: Resource Management which is the directorate responsible for managing all protected areas and hence would apply the policies in their park management activities.

2.4 For countries with Federal systems of Government, are there Wetland Policies/Strategies/Plans in place, being developed or planned for the provincial/state or regional levels of Government? Yes/No   If yes, please give details.

Although Namibia is divided into several political regions, the implementation of a national wetland policy and strategy would rest with central government.

2.5 Has a review of legislation and practices which impact on wetlands been carried out, and if so, has this resulted in any changes which assist with implementation of the Ramsar Convention? Please describe these.

Currently a review of national conservation legislation is underway. The new Environmental Management Act will include legislation pertaining to the conservation of wetlands. Currently all new developments are subject to voluntary environmental assessments. These will become compulsory once this legislation has been passed.

2.6 Describe the efforts made in your country to have wetlands considered in integrated land/water and coastal zone planning and management processes at the following levels:

a. national
b. provincial
c. local

The Walvis Bay Ramsar site is included in a land use/ development plan currently being drafted for Walvis Bay town and its surrounds and it is foreseen that the site will become part of a proclaimed protected area.

2.7 Have there been any publications produced, or practices documented, which could assist other countries to promote and improve the application of the Ramsar Wise Use of Wetlands Guidelines? Yes/No   If Yes, please provide details and copies.

No publications relating to wise use of wetlands have been produced.

2.8 Noting COP6 Recommendation 6.14 relating to toxic chemicals and pollution, please advise of the actions taken since then "to remedy and to prevent pollution impacts affecting Ramsar sites and other wetlands" (Operative paragraph 9).

The land use/ development plan for the Walvis Bay area (see 2.6 above) addresses possible pollution incidents from the harbour and fish factories and how to remedy it.

2.9 Describe what steps have been taken to incorporate wetland economic valuation techniques into natural resource planning and assessment actions.

An economic valuation of Namibia's wetlands has never been performed.

2.10 Is Environmental Impact Assessment for actions potentially impacting on wetlands required under legislation in your country? Yes/No

Currently EAs are performed on a voluntary basis for all new developments but once the Environmental Management Act is promulgated, EAs will be compulsory.

2.11 Is wetland restoration and rehabilitation considered a priority in your country? Yes/No.  If Yes, describe the actions that have been taken to identify wetlands in need of these actions and to mobilise resources for restoration or rehabilitation.

Wetland restoration and rehabilitation is not considered a priority in Namibia.

2.12 Describe what actions have been taken to "encourage active and informed participation of local communities, including indigenous people, and in particular women, in the conservation and wise use of wetlands." (refer to Actions 2.7.1-4 in the Strategic Plan).

Several "Community Based Natural Resource Management" programmes exist in Namibia which have as their purpose the training of rural communities in sustainable resource utilisation. However, these are very broad programmes addressing resource utilisation in general i.e. none of these CBNRM programmes is explicitly aimed at wetlands but some of them do include a wetland component.

2.13 Describe what actions have been taken to "encourage involvement of the private sector in the conservation and wise use of wetlands" (refer to Actions 2.8.1-4 in the Strategic Plan). Has this included a review of fiscal measures (taxation arrangements, etc.) to identify and remove disincentives and introduce incentives for wetlands conservation and wise use? Yes/No   If yes, please provide details.

As far as could be established, there is no private sector involvement in wetland conservation apart from the NGOs running the CBNRM programmes mentioned in 2.12 above.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 3
To raise awareness of wetland values and functions throughout the world and at all levels

3.1 Is there a government-run national programme for Education and Public Awareness in your country which focuses on, or includes, wetlands? Yes/No?   If yes, what are the priority actions under this programme and who are the target groups? (Refer also to question 9.4)

Lack of staff and resources has so far limited the government from getting involved in any programmes on wetland issues specifically. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism nevertheless has two environmental education centres that present general conservation education courses for teachers and school children.

3.2 Describe the steps taken to have wetlands issues and Ramsar’s Wise Use principles included as part of the curricula of educational institutions. Has this been at all levels of education (primary, secondary, tertiary and adult)? Please give details.

Wetlands were included in the national curricula for primary schools the first time in 1996.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 4
To reinforce the capacity of institutions in each Contracting Party to achieve conservation and wise use of wetlands.

4.1 Describe the mechanisms in place, or being introduced, to increase cooperation between the various institutions responsible for actions which can have an impact on the conservation and wise use of wetlands. If one of the mechanisms is a National Ramsar/Wetlands Committee, please describe its composition, functions and modus operandi.

Informal consultation between the government ministries working with wetlands and water occurs on an irregular basis but recently a group called the "Namibian Wetlands Working Group" has been formed to facilitate cooperation between scientists working in wetland related fields in Namibia. This group has not yet formally met but informal contact between members occurs regularly.

4.2 Of the following, indicate which have been undertaken:

a. a review to identify the training needs of institutions and individuals concerned with the conservation and wise use of wetlands Yes/No? If yes, please indicate the major findings of the review.

b. a review to identify training opportunities for these people both within your country and in other countries. Yes/No?

c. the development of training modules or a training programme specifically for wetland managers. If yes, please give details.

d. people from your country have gained wetland-related training either within or outside the country. Yes/No? If yes, please give details.

A major workshop, hosted by IUCN, was held in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 23-25 April 1997 to identify training needs for wetland management in southern Africa. The findings of the workshop were that most countries lack enabling legislation and policy, appropriate organisational and institutional arrangements, have insufficient information and research, planning, management, awareness, education and training. These issues should be addressed in an appropriate training programme and through funding of the implementing agencies. The wetland biologist of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism attended a two week course on wetland and watershed management in Malawi.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 5
To ensure the conservation of all sites included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar List).

5.1 Of the Ramsar sites in your country, how many have formal management plans:

a. being prepared?
b. fully prepared?
c. being implemented?

Please indicate in the attached table of Ramsar sites which sites these are and what category they fall into.

Thanks to an SGF grant, management plans for all Namibian Ramsar sites are in preparation and some will be completed by the CoP in Costa Rica.

5.2 Of the management plans referred to above, which ones have included a monitoring scheme or programme to allow changes in ecological character to be detected? Please indicate this in the attached table of Ramsar sites also.

All management plans include monitoring of the wetland as an integral part of management.

5.3 Has there been a change in the ecological character (either positive or negative) at any of your Ramsar sites or is this likely to occur in the near future? Yes/No. If Yes, please give details.

The Orange River Mouth Ramsar site has been listed on the Montreux record by South Africa because of serious degradation of a saltmarsh on the South African side. No serious ecological change has yet been detected on the Namibian side although the proposed construction of a gas-fired powerstation near the site may have some negative impacts.

5.4 In the case of Montreux Record Ramsar sites where the Management Guidance Procedure has been applied, what is the status of the implementation of the MGP report recommendations? What is the expected time-frame for removing the site from the Montreux Record?

5.5 For those countries referred to in COP6 Recommendations 6.17.1-4, "Ramsar sites in the Territories of Specific Contracting Parties", please provide advice on the actions that have been taken in response to the issues raised at that time.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 6
To designate for the Ramsar List those wetlands which meet the Convention’s criteria, especially wetland types still under-represented in the List and transfrontier wetlands.

6.1 Has a national inventory of wetlands been prepared for your country? Yes/No.

If no, are there plans for this to be done? Yes/No.

Where a national inventory exists please provide details of when it was finalised, where it is kept and what information it contains.

A national inventory is in preparation and a first edition will be available at the CoP in Costa Rica. The inventory consists of a database linked to GIS, and a printed copy, both of which are regularly updated. For wetlands which are Ramsar sites or which would qualify as Ramsar sites, a Ramsar Information Sheet has been completed and incorporated into the database. For most of the other wetlands only geographical coordinates and a wetland type are known.

6.2 Does there exist a list or directory of "important" wetlands for your country or region? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details of when it was finalised, where it is kept, what criteria for "important" were used, and the types of information it contains.

The national inventory lists all wetlands on record and even includes some borehole data.

6.3 If it is known, please provide an estimate of the area of wetlands in your country at present and any information on rates of loss or conversion to other activities. If this information is available, please indicate what definition of "wetland" was used.

Wetland area varies tremendously because of the high variability in Namibia’s rainfall. It is estimated that approximately 4-5% (± 4 million ha) of Namibia’s surface area can be classified as wetlands using the Ramsar definition, but this figure really is only an estimate because no proper quantitative analysis of remotely sensed images has yet been done.

6.4 Have any actions been taken in response to the COP6 Resolutions and Recommendations that Contracting Parties should give priority to listing Wetlands of International Importance which:

a. meet the criteria for fish habitat (Resolution VI.2),
b. meet the 1% criterion for waterbird populations using data provided by the International Waterfowl Census (Resolution VI.4),
c. are subterranean karst or cave wetland systems (Resolution VI.5),
d. are peatland ecosystems (Recommendation 6.1)
e. are coral reefs and associated systems (Recommendation 6.7)
f. are under-represented wetland types (which apart from d. and e. above include mangroves and sea grass beds) (Strategic Plan Action 6.2.3)

Of the eleven sites in Namibia that currently are considered potential Ramsar sites, two qualify exclusively because of the criteria based on fish. They are two sinkhole lakes in Namibia’s Karstveld, Lakes Guinas and Otjikoto. Currently no actions have been taken to list these sites. The Walvis Bay Ramsar site regularly supports over 100000 wetland birds, including 1% of the global population of several species.

6.5 If your government indicated at COP6 that it would be proceeding to list further specific sites, please advise of the status of this action.

Although Namibia did not explicitly state that it would list further sites, there are plans to list probably two further sites within the near future. These will be listed once the existing four Ramsar sites have management plans which are being implemented.

6.6 Please advise which of the sites included in the Ramsar List from your country are transfrontier wetlands (Refer also to 7.1).

The Orange River Mouth is currently Namibia’s only transfrontier wetland.

6.7 Describe any plans, or actions being taken for further transfrontier sites to be listed (Refer also to 7.1).

One of the sites alluded to in 6.5 above is the lower Okavango River, which could also become a transfrontier wetland (between Angola, Namibia and Botswana).

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 7
To mobilise international cooperation and financial assistance for wetland conservation and wise use in collaboration with other conventions and agencies, both governmental and non-governmental.

7.1 Briefly describe any bilateral or multilateral activities that have been taken, are under way, or are planned for the management of transfrontier wetlands or their watersheds/catchments (Refer also to 6.6 and 6.7).

The Orange River Mouth Ramsar site is a transboundary site and the proclamation of a reserve which will include the site will be proposed late in 1998 or early in 1999. Throughout the process of proclamation there has been extensive consultation between the Namibian and South African authorities and the drafting of the management plan has been a collaborative effort between the two conservation authorities involved. Namibia is also represented on OKACOM, a committee established with the aim of managing the Okavango River basin. Similar initiatives are under way for the Zambezi basin under the ZACPLAN project.

7.2 Do you have Ramsar sites that are "twinned" with others, either nationally or internationally? Yes/No. If yes, please give details.

Currently none of Namibia’s Ramsar sites are twinned with others.

7.3 Where your country is also a signatory of any of the following Conventions, describe what mechanism(s) exist to assist regular dialogue and cooperative actions between the personnel responsible for their implementation and the Ramsar Administrative Authority:

a. Convention on Biological Diversity
b. Framework Convention on Climate Change
c. Convention to Combat Desertification
d. Convention on Migratory Species
e. World Heritage Convention

Namibia is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the national biodiversity country study has just been completed. Furthermore, Namibia is also signatory to the Convention to Combat Desertification and to the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Namibia is not a signatory to the Convention on Migratory Species and the World Heritage Convention. Since the body of scientists active in Namibia is very small, most scientists are involved in all of these Conventions.

7.4 Is your country cooperating as part of any bilateral or multilateral activities directed at the conservation of migratory wetland species? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

A large group of volunteers takes part twice annually in the wetland bird counts under the auspices of Wetlands International, plus an additional count done in May, which is when the Namibian wetlands contain the maximum number of birds.

7.5 Are there multilateral and/or bilateral donors supporting projects which contribute to implementation of the Ramsar Convention in your country? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

Currently, the SGF grant apart, there are no donor funded projects that directly address the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in Namibia. Several donor funded projects however, will produce outputs that could be used for the implementation of the Convention e.g. a DANCED funded project to produce a coastal zone management plan and a Dutch funded environmental profiles project. A German funded project to produce management plans for Namibia’s north eastern parks is about to be completed. This area contains the majority of Namibia’s permanent wetlands and thus this project also contributed indirectly to the implementation of the Convention in Namibia.

7.6 Does your government make an annual budgetary allocation to support the conservation and wise use of wetlands within your country? Yes/No. If yes, is this a specific allocation to a wetlands programme or as part of a larger environment or natural resource management budget?

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has a Conservation Scientist with responsibility for wetlands. Also, several of the Ministry’s other specialist scientists perform research related to wetland biota. It is also the responsibility of the Ministry to plan and manage all parks in Namibia which inter alia also include some wetlands.

7.7 If your country has a development assistance programme, does it include funds earmarked for wetland conservation and wise use in other countries? Yes/No. If yes, please give details.

7.8 Is there a formal process in place for consultation between the Ramsar Administrative Authority and the development assistance programme in your country, where one exists? Yes/No. If yes, what is that process.

Ramsar Strategic Plan - General Objective 8
To provide the Convention with the required institutional mechanisms and resources.

8.1 Has your government made voluntary financial contributions, other than the invoiced contributions or to the Small Grants Fund, to further the work of the Convention globally? Yes/No. If yes, please provide details.

Namibia is unfortunately not in a position to make any voluntary financial contributions to further the work of the Convention globally.

8.2 If your country is in arrears with the payment of its annual contributions to the Ramsar Convention, please indicate the reasons for this situation and the prospects for paying these arrears in the near future.

Namibia’s annual contributions to the Ramsar Convention are up to date.

Optional section - Participation of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention

These are optional questions relating to cooperation with and involvement of non-government organizations in the implementation of the Convention.

At COP6 some 42 NGOs made the "Brisbane NGO pledge of support for the Ramsar Convention". The Standing Committee agreed that for COP7 there should be an effort made to gauge the level and type of cooperation which is occurring between government Administrative Authorities and the national and international NGOs with an interest in wetlands issues.

In this optional section of the National Report, you are asked to describe the nature of the cooperation and relationship with any other international, regional, national and provincial NGOs operating within your country.

9.1 Approximately how many NGOs have wetlands as part of their regular "business" in your country?

Please break this down between international, regional and national/provincial organizations.

9.2 Is there a regular forum or mechanism through which these NGOs express their views on wetland conservation and Ramsar implementation:

a. to each other? Yes/No
b. to the government? Yes/No

9.3 Does your government include one or more NGO representatives on its official delegation to Ramsar COPs? Yes/No

9.4 Do any of the NGOs run programmes aimed at Education and Public Awareness about wetlands in your country? Yes/No. If yes, please give details (Refer also to question 3.1).

9.5 Where they exist, do Ramsar site management advisory committees include NGO representatives? If yes, please give details

9.6 Describe the themes of the Convention (refer to General Objectives 1-8 of the Strategic Plan) where you perceive the national/provincial NGOs to be most active.

Final comments:

10.1 General comments on implementation of the Ramsar Strategic Plan.

10.2 Observations concerning the functioning of, relations with, and services provided by:

a. The Ramsar Standing Committee
b. The Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel
c. The Ramsar Bureau
d. The Ramsar NGO partners

10.3 Any other general observations and/or recommendations for the future.

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Annex: Country table for Namibia

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