A critical assessment of the Namibian protected area management effectiveness tracking tool.
Mulonga, Samison Nzehengwa.
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Protected Areas (PAs) are one of the most effective mechanisms for biodiversity conservation. They are found in almost every country and have been adopted by the international community through various conventions and agreements. However setting aside areas as protected areas does not automatically qualify them to be effectively managed. Research around the world has shown that some PAs are not well managed due to different reasons in different parts of the world. Therefore it is important to determine management effectiveness of PAs to ascertain whether they are managed according to the objectives for which they were created. The Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) is one of the tools developed to evaluate management effectiveness of PAs around the world. The tool has been implemented in a number of countries including Namibia where it has been modified into the Namibia Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (NAMETT) through the United Nations Development Programme and Global Environment Facility’s Strengthening the Protected Areas Network (SPAN) project. However the effectiveness of this tool in providing necessary information about PA management effectiveness was not ascertained before implementation. The Namibian PA management authorities on the other hand need a tool for determining management effectiveness of PAs for management decision-making and as part of their obligations through international conventions which they signed. The aim of this research study was to analyse and assess the NAMETT as a management effectiveness tool for PAs in Namibia, by looking at the strength and weakness of the tool. This will inform whether its worthwhile adopting the tool as a standard management effectiveness evaluation tool for Namibia’s PAs. To accomplish this NAMETT assessment data obtained from the two NAMETT assessments undertaken by SPAN project was analysed. Furthermore different qualitative techniques were used including a semi-structured questionnaire as part of a case study approach. A comprehensive literature review was undertaken in the process and links to students undertaking similar research projects and professionals in the PA management industry were established and complemented the research data. Data obtained from NAMETT assessment undertaken by SPAN project appear to provide a picture of the different levels of management effectiveness in Namibia’s PAs suggesting the tool could be adopted for management effectiveness of Namibia’s PAs. Research data and information gathered shows that at the moment there is no management effectiveness tracking tool in Namibia. PA management authorities lack the necessary management effectiveness information for decision making. Currently only reports, the Incident Book Monitoring System (IBMS) and park inspections are the only sources of information for PA management authorities in Namibia. These tools are inadequate as they do not provide information at a strategic level which can help show trends and weakness and strength in PA management. Therefore a METT tool based on the World Commission on Protected Area’s Framework of which Namibia is a signatory is warranted. The NAMETT provides good information but lacks a link or section that should highlight the health of the ecosystem or provide information on biodiversity. Furthermore the tool has shortfalls in terms of implementation training and guidelines to assist implementers. Despite this, stakeholders who participated in the research project indicated that the tool should be adopted as the standard management effectiveness tool for PAs in Namibia. This however should come with alignment of the tool to local conditions and development of implementation guidelines as well as linkage to other form of PA management tools such as game counts and the IBMS. There is lack of robust management system for PAs in Namibia which will consolidate implementation of NAMETT. Such a system should involve planning, implementation, reporting and adaptive management. Therefore if NAMETT is to be adopted there is a need for such a system to be in place to enable data and information from the different tools to be able to complement each other for informed decision making about PA management.