Partner: KfW/DED, NNF, WWF, Department of Forestry 
Coordinator/Technical adviser: Nadine Faschina

In January 2008, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) together with the Directorate of Forestry (DoF) in cooperation with German Development Service (DED), started laying the groundwork to implement the Community Forestry in Namibia (CFN) programme (formerly (2004-2008) Community Forestry in North-Eastern Namibia (CFNEN)).

The overall objective of the CFN programme, based on the Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) model, is to improve forest resource management and the livelihoods of local people, by empowering communities with forest use rights. With the extension of the original programme called CFNEN in 2008 to the entire country, the integration of community forestry with Conservancies has became an important pillar of the CFN programme. Although conservancies and community forests have evolved as core components of Namibia's CBNRM programme, both strategies aim to assist communities by strengthening their ability to manage their natural resources sustainably.

In recent years, rural communities have expressed a growing interest in establishing both CBNRM components in the same area. This not only provides additional sources of income generation / poverty alleviation, but also offers opportunities for integrated ecosystem management.

Legal issues and the integration of management options and tools for the use of different natural resources in the same zone (use of zonation maps) or in adjacent areas are the main challenges for integrated Community Forests/Conservancies. While both conservancies and community forests follow similar approaches, they are based on different laws and regulations, implemented by different Ministries and have specific technical requirements for resource management. Community forestry falls under the Forest Act (2001) and is the responsibility of MAWF, and conservancies fall under the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism (MET). In order to integrate both institutions in the same area it is therefore necessary to harmonise constitutional arrangements and to develop joint management strategies.

Regarding integrated natural resource management, the CFN programme supported 30 conservancies who wanted to integrate with Community Forestry. The Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) and DED/CFN, in close collaboration with the communities, established a new and innovative approach of integration, as there were few comparable experiences from which to learn. The DED-Advisor worked in a liaison position, based at NNF, to support this process and give legal advice (e.g. for joint constitutions, by-laws, integrated benefit distribution and management plans) to relevant stakeholders such as governmental (e.g. MAWF, MLR) and non-governmental organisations (e.g. NNDFN, IRDNC) as well as consultants. Their cooperation and coordination in order to harmonise the various legal and technical requirements for community-based forest and wildlife management was also be facilitated by the technical advisor.

NNF continues its work in community forestry through harmonisation with conservancies.