The Strengthening the Protected Area Network (SPAN) Project aims to better manage Namibia's protected areas for the conservation on plants and animals and to share benefits and responsibilities.
The six - year project began in 2006. Housed within the Ministry of Environment and Tourism's (MET's) Directorate of Parks and Wildlife Management, the Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Namibia's impressive State managed protected areas (PAs) serve as a cornerstone for its conservation programme. This system comprises 20 national PAs, currently covering nearly 17 percent of the country.
Yet some vital ecosystems and biomes were not protected when the SPAN Project began. MET also recognised the potential for these areas to be woven into a tight, cohesive and effective PA network, providing an effective buffer against threats to biodiversity.
Barriers hindering improved PA management effectiveness included:
A fragmented policy framework
Weak institutional capacities
Weak human capacities for PA operations
Incomplete bio-geographic coverage; and
The absence of tested mechanisms for public - private - community partnerships.
The SPAN Project was conceived to help lift barriers to improve management effectiveness in the PA system.
It focused on three broad intervention areas:
1) Strengthening systemic capacity, namely the enabling legal/policy environment and financial mechanisms for PA management
2) Strengthening the institutional capacity for PA management; and
3) Demonstrating new ways of PA management at four field demonstration sites
Bwabwata - Mudumu - Mamili Complex
Etosha - Skeleton Coast Link
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Activities under each component focus on the removal of barriers hindering the management performance of the PA System.
SPAN has worked with a variety of stakeholders, primarily Ministry of Environment and Tourism, GEF/UNDP and KfW.