The Kunene River mouth : managing a unique environment.
Paterson, John Richard Bernard.
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The Kunene River Mouth (KRM) is one of only two river mouths in Namibia. The Kunene river and river mouth is bisected by the international border between Namibia and Angola, and lies between two protected areas, Iona National Park in Angola and Skeleton Coast Park in Namibia. The governments of Namibia and Angola have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to link these two parks as a transfrontier park. This study further proposes a transfrontier Marine Protected Area to protect the marine environment surrounding the KRM and the Angola Benguela Front. The KRM is a fluvially dominated freshwater river mouth. The area is a biogeographically important biodiversity hotspot. The remoteness and pristine character contribute to the aesthetic appeal of the area. This study provides a profile of the KRM addressing its conservation value in terms of both biodiversity and aesthetic value, making use of the concept of “sense of place”. An analysis of all current and potential stakeholders is presented and their interests, activities and potential threats are evaluated. The main stakeholders are Government: the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Angolan Government, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Namwater, Ministry of Mines and Energy, and the Kunene Regional Council. The private sector presently has a small stake in the area, with the exception of the Northern Namibia Development Corporation who is prospecting for diamonds at the KRM. Although the area has great tourism potential there is no tourism development currently underway or planned. The threat analysis suggests that the KRM is under severe threat from inappropriate development, both locally as well as within the catchment. Mining and prospecting were identified as the greatest threat, whereas tourism poses the least threat to the area. It is suggested that appropriate tourism is the most suitable development for this sensitive area. There is currently no coherent management strategy in place for the KRM. The current environmental legislation is ineffective. The need for a stringent adaptive management regime is identified and management goals for the area are suggested. It is further suggested that the concepts of “Thresholds of Potential Concern” and “Limits of Acceptable Change” are useful to monitor indicators for biophysical components and development activities respectively and to maintain a “Desired State” for the area. This “Desired State” must be the result of a participatory process. To be effective stakeholders must reach consensus on the “Desired State”. An eight step participatory process is proposed to develop and implement an adaptive management and development strategy for the KRM.
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