50 years of funding for Skeleton Coast-Etosha conservation

Ellanie Smit
A grant agreement has been signed to provide US$1 million in funding a year to the Skeleton Coast-Etosha conservancies in north-western Namibia over 50 years.
The Skeleton Coast-Etosha site is a conservation bridge that passes through several conservancies, connects two national parks and embraces the first 'People’s Park' – a new conservation category that expands the formalisation of community conservation.
According to Legacy Landscapes Fund (LLF), the agreement commits this funding to the region which consists of multiple protected areas, communal conservancies and their buffer zones for at least 50 years.
The fund said this “first ever perpetual grant” was signed with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Namibia’s Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC).
As per LLF’s private-public model, US$10 million in funding will come from the Rob Walton Foundation, a private philanthropic donor, while the rest of the grant money will be from the LLF endowment.
The grant will be implemented by the WWF and the IRDNC, with the support of the environment ministry.
WWF and IRDNC will work closely with local partners, rural communities and conservancies to oversee implementation in the region.
Effective management
LLF said this long-term funding will contribute to the effective management of the Namibian conservation hotspot, bolstering much-needed climate resilience efforts, boosting local livelihoods and protecting vulnerable wildlife species.
“This ensures reliable and substantial funding of US$1 million annually for 50 years and with strong governance of local rights-holders. We are excited to welcome this exceptional Namibian site into the LLF network,” executive director Stefanie Lang said.
Nik Sekhran, chief conservation officer at WWF-US said this is further validation of the importance of Namibia’s conservation efforts and the essential role communities play in protecting wildlife and biodiversity across the country.
IRDNC executive director John Kasaona said wildlife plays a role in people’s cultures and traditions and this funding will allow them to plan for the future, with communities able to build upon this connection by making decisions on how they want to see their land managed in the long-term.