A brief history of the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia
The confluence of three distinct habitat types, namely the sand dunes, the gravel plains and the riparian forest of the Kuiseb River led to the establishment of the Namib Desert Research Station in 1962 by Dr. Charles Koch aligned to the Transvaal Museum. This followed more than ten years of expedition in the Kalahari and Namib Deserts. The locality provided an ideal setting for the study of unique life forms, their interactions with the harsh arid environment as well their adaptive coping strategies. The research station became the Desert Ecological Research Unit (DERU) in 1963 conducting ecological, climatologic, geomorphologic and geologic as well as archeological research under the directorship of Dr. Mary Seely between 1970 and 1998.
Over the years, a rich and comprehensive collection of data was gathered and insights gained on arid environments, key biotic and abiotic factors and their interactions at Gobabeb. The Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) was formed 21 years ago (1990) under the auspices of Dr. Mary Seely to facilitate the dissemination and application of long-term insights and experiences gained at Gobabeb to the benefit of decision-making and sustainable management of the broader Namibian environment. DRFN established an office in Windhoek in 1995. Since then the DRFN has, through its projects and general involvement in current affairs, strived to ensure informed decision-making based on applied research, knowledge and understanding of the environment for sustainable livelihoods and development.
In 1998 the DRFN entered into a joint-venture agreement (JVA) with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) in terms of which Gobabeb became an autonomous research and training institute, the Gobabeb Training and Research Centre (GTRC).
Since 2009, DRFN is led by Mrs. Viviane Kinyaga, who started her career with the DRFN as a student taking part in the Summer Desertification Programme. A good example of how DRFN strives to enhance decision making for sustainable development.