The initiative, facilitated in partnership with the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (GIZ), featured seminars by a number of German-based academics. The project, known as the GIZ-Poly ValuES Postgraduate Summer School, is based on a global phenomenon of determining the economic value of biological diversity by assessing the ecosystem services they provide to mankind.
Economic valuation is a tool for valuing ecosystems and their services in monetary terms. It quantifies the benefits provided by ecosystems and the impact of ecosystem changes on the wellbeing of people.
The programme was attended by 19 individuals, including Honours and Master students from the Poly, as well as two specialists from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and combined classroom-based theoretical learning with practical excursions to the Erongo region where land use conflicts are impacting on ecosystem services.
Dr Morgan Hauptfleisch, Poly Lecturer and Coordinator of the Summer School Programme, said: “Valuing ecosystem services and using those values to inform the decision-making process can be of great value, especially in a country such as Namibia that focuses very heavily on the tourism sector. Among others, one can use this information to build awareness of the overall contribution of ecosystem services to social and economic well-being, assess the liability for damage to the environment and evaluate trade-offs between different ecosystem management options and choosing between competing uses, for example, land use.”