ISOE Policy Brief

Knowledge transfer is the key to sustainable land use in Namibia 

The state of research on the complex and highly dynamic topics of sustainable development and nature conservation is subject to constant change and expansion from a diverse range of disciplines. A targeted knowledge transfer between science, politics and society thus becomes a special challenge, given that transformation processes call for all stakeholders to be well trained and informed. In the current ISOE Policy Brief, researchers use the example of rangeland management in Namibia to show how the process of transferring knowledge from scientists to social stakeholders can be structured. 

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Photo: Manjana Tausendfreund

Climate change, land management, and demographic and economic developments are increasing the pressure on natural resources all over the world, which often leads to conflicts of use. In many places, so-called integrated management strategies are needed to tackle these conflicts – also with the aim of making the relationship between nature and society more sustainable. This also applies, and in particular, to the semi-arid regions in Southern Africa, where people are facing growing challenges in trying to secure their livelihood. There are a number of different reasons for this, such as the consequences of a changing climate. 

“One example is the ecosystem in the Namibian savanna, which is increasingly under threat from the changed climate conditions and overuse of the soil”, says ecologist Deike Lüdtke. A major factor is that cattle farming as the most widespread form of land use often leads to an over-exploitation of the rangelands. New management strategies incorporating the potential benefits of using wild animals, for example in meat production or tourism, are generally considered suitable ways of mitigating such negative consequences. This is often based on the assumption that indigenous wildlife is better adapted to the local climate conditions than imported farm animals. “However, the task of communicating suitable solutions in practice is anything but trivial”, says Lüdtke. She adds, “On top of the complex dynamics between climate change, land use and the ecosystem, there’s a need to convey the scientific insights in a productive exchange with farmers and other stakeholders involved in savanna management, all of whom come with very specific motivations, experiences and lifeworlds”. 

Knowledge transfer is crucial to successful transformation processes 

The success of strategies for adapting to climate change and other challenges therefore depends on science and researchers entering into a dialogue with stakeholders from the practical side – farmers, village communities and local authorities. In a policy brief, scientists from ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research show how research results can be incorporated into practice – ideally using a transdisciplinary approach – in order to trigger change processes in the field. For this they draw on experiences gained in the ORYCS research project and on interviews with local stakeholders about forms of knowledge transfer adapted to their needs. The authors are convinced that any measures must follow the knowledge needs of on-the-ground stakeholders and be geared to their everyday life. This way, solutions for sustainable land use stand a better chance of successful implementation, also in the Namibian case study cited here. 

To the ISOE Policy Brief:

How to reach people through knowledge transfer – Sustainability and conservation research: addressing Namibian land users. Deike U. Lüdtke, Verena Rossow, Nicola Schuldt-Baumgart, Stefan Liehr (2022). ISOE Policy Brief, No. 9. Frankfurt am Main: ISOE - Institute for Social-Ecological Research Download

More on the ORYCS research project – Wildlife-based management strategies in Namibia: 

Scientific contact:

Dr. Stefan Liehr
Tel. +49 69 707 6919-36

Press contact:

Melanie Neugart
Tel. +49 69 707 6919-51