Marianne Young

Marianne Young

High Commissioner, Windhoek

Part of UK in Namibia

1st October 2013 Windhoek, Namibia

Visit to Namibia’s latest World Heritage Site in the Namib Desert

Namibia is a country blessed with magnificent scenery, wonderful warm people and a terrific climate. It is also now blessed with two World Heritage sites after the recent UNESCO naming of the Namib Sand Sea as the country’s latest addition to this eminent international grouping and marks its first natural site.

View of Gobabeb Desert Research Centre from Namib dunes

Namibia’s other World Heritage site is at Twyfelfontein , which has one of the largest concentrations of rock engravings in Africa and is also well worth a visit (particularly as the British High Commission has just provided English language training for its Heritage guides).

The Namib Sand Sea is the world’s only desert that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. Covering an area of over three million hectares and a buffer zone of 899,500 hectares, the site is composed of two dune systems, an ancient semi-consolidated one overlain by a younger active one.

The Namib Desert therefore boasts a unique environment in which endemic invertebrates, reptiles and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of microhabitats and ecological niches.

I was lucky enough to be able to experience this first hand this weekend as a guest at the  Gobabeb Research and Training Centre (GGRTC) open weekend. GRTC is a centre of research excellence situated in the desert, a five-hour drive from Windhoek, in one of the driest places in sub-Saharan Africa (120 km south east of Walvis Bay).Gobabeb put on a really fascinating programme of talks, demonstrations and even a children’s programme, which was very much appreciated by all (a huge thanks to the wonderful Jordan).

Participants were able to learn about the desert’s inscription as a Heritage Site, listen to talks about some of the recent research and educational activities taking place at the centre and enjoy guided walks into the desert.

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Visitors taking a Nature tour in Kuiseb river bed

A big highlight for my entire family was having a chance to see some of the animals that live in the three biomes that surround the centre: the Sand Sea desert, the Kuiseb River bed and the neighbouring gravel plains, including tok tokkie beetles and Namibia’s natural treasure, the golden mole.

Kids on scavenger hunt around Gobabeb Research Centre
Kids on scavenger hunt around Gobabeb Research Centre

Other treats included talks by scientists, such as Dr Simon Elwen (a Research Fellow of the University of Pretoria), who presented on his studies into the behaviour and threatened habitat of a group of about 100 dolphins present around Walvis Bay from his Namibian Dolphin Project.

Dr Joh Henschel talked to some stunning photos of the Sand Sea that clearly illustrated why it was chosen as an area of outstanding natural beauty; and new CEO of Namibia’s Save the Rhino Trust, Marcia Fargnoli, broke up her story on the Great Elder Namib to play to us all on a Native American flute, which helped make the point that we all need to live in harmony with such stunning settings to be able to preserve them and their inhabitants.

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The sun setting in Gobabeb

The visit was well worth the long drive and provided a fascinating insight to this stunning country and its natural beauty. I thoroughly recommend a visit to Gobabeb if you want to gain a deeper understanding of this unique landscape and learn more about its geology, biology and people. Many thanks to all at the centre who made us feel so welcome and educated us so effectively.

We will be back!

About Marianne Young

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented her credentials to the President of the Republic of…

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the
Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented
her credentials to the President of the Republic of Namibia on 3rd
Mrs Young joined the FCO in 2001 following a career in international
journalism, including time spent running an Asian maritime press office
in Singapore and a traineeship on the UK’s Times newspaper.
Her first role in the FCO was as a Press Officer in News Department,
after which she went on to be Head of the Great Lakes Section in Africa
Directorate and then Head of the East Africa & Horn Section.
In 2005, she became the first Head of Communications for the Engaging with the Islamic World Group.
She moved to the British High Commission in Pretoria in February 2007
and served as the Head of the External Political Section and Deputy
High Commissioner to the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mrs Young moved across to the British High Commission in Windhoek in
June 2011, and presented her credentials to the President of the
Republic of Namibia on 3rd August 2011.
On her appointment as British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia, Mrs Young said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be appointed Her Majesty’s High
Commissioner to Namibia. I look forward to working to strengthen the
many commercial, political and cultural ties between our two countries,
and to help the many British nationals who holiday there. My family and I
are particularly thrilled to be remaining in southern Africa – and to
have the opportunity to explore this beautiful country further and
discover more about its people and culture.”
Curriculum vitae

Full name:
Marianne Young

Married to:
Barry Young

Two daughters and one son

June 2011
Windhoek, British High Commissioner

2007 – 2011
Pretoria, Head of External Political Section and DHC for the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland

2005 – 2006
FCO, Head of Communications, Engaging with the Islamic World Group

2004 – 2005
FCO, Head of East Africa & Horn Section, Africa Directorate

3/2003 – 8/2003
FCO, Head of Great Lakes Section, Africa Directorate

2002 – 2003
FCO, Press Officer, Press Office

2001 – 2002
FCO, Departmental Report Editor, Press Office

Joined FCO

Senior Correspondent, Fairplay Group, UK

Staff Editor and then Asia Editor, Fairplay Group Singapore

Graduate Trainee at The Times newspaper, UK

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