Conservation and tourism research station opened at Impalila

18 Apr 2016 18:30pm
IMPALILA, 18 APR (NAMPA) – The University of Namibia (UNAM) Katima Mulilo campus on Monday launched a biodiversity conservation and tourism development research project station at the Impalila Island.
The project aims to improve the protection of biodiversity, sustainable land use and enhancement of tourism benefits for local communities.
Activities are funded through a grant from the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology of N.dollars 430 000, which will be spread over two years.
Pro-Vice Chancellor on Research, Science and Technology Kenneth Matengu said during the launch Namibia has a very unique biodiversity and fragile ecosystem, whose protection is crucial for the agricultural and tourism sectors.
Matengu said 43 per cent of the country’s land is designated as protected area and thus demonstrates the importance Government puts on sustainable use of its natural resources.
The project is strategically located in the Zambezi Region, where there are many protected areas, national parks and conservancies, which is ideal for internationally competitive research in the areas of wildlife management and sustainable tourism.
“The research project is conceived and structured to research and develop resources base inventories for the island and develop innovative tourism concepts through modern participation planning methods,” Matengu said.
The Impalila Island is on the far eastern tip of Namibia, bordered on the north by the waters of the Zambezi river and on the south by the Chobe River. Between 2 500 and 3 000 people live in 25 small villages on the island.
Matengu added that the research project station falls under the Katima Mulilo Campus’s Department of Wildlife Management and Ecotourism, which offers training in wildlife management.
“Therefore the department will train experts in wildlife management and ecotourism urgently needed in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region at Bachelor and Master levels and stimulate research activities.
“This will help better protect and conserve the Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA), use natural resources sustainability and develop the area to a competitive tourist destination thereby contributing to the economic development of the region and supporting its integration,” said Matengu.
Katima Mulilo Campus assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor, Dr Bennet Kangumu said this kind of research will be relevant for the management of natural resources and not only promote the continuous engagement in nature conservation but increase its impact.
“The project will go a long way in assisting the community of Impalila Island and most residents of the eastern flood-plains of our country in general to maximise tourism benefits derived from local resources,”Kangumu said.
The research station is made up of three permanent buildings which will occasionally be used by UNAM research students when investigating and collecting statistics on wildlife, trees, plants and species found on the island.
The launch was attended by representatives from the ministries of environment and tourism; fisheries and marine resources; land reform, Impalila Conservancy; Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza) Secretariat; and area village head woman Kasimbi Muluti.