251734 109872129104579 3069036 nWillem van Riet is the chairman of the Transboundary Conservation Foundation, which he founded in 2011 together with Eveline van Riet Dietz. This Swedish foundation focuses on Transboundary projects globally. In the beginning of 2013 he was appointed by the IUCN as the chairman of the IUCN Independent Review Panel for the Biodiversity Offset Study & Final ESIA for the Gamsberg project in South Africa. The three panel members reviewed all of the documents developed for the project and are involved in advising IUCN on the overall process to achieve a globally recognised project.



Professor Willem van Riet joined the Peace Parks Foundation in August 2000 as Chief Executive Officer, and has acted as Vice Chairman of the Peace Parks Foundation from April 2008, when he retired as CEO. He resigned from Peace Parks Foundation as a fulltime employee at the end of 2010. He is currently working as a consultant for Transboundary Consulting Africa, specializing in conservation, land use planning, mining policies and rehabilitation, fundraising, as well as GIS development.

SPORT - A keen canoeist who represented South Africa for a number of years culminating in the Olympics in Mexico.in 1968. He has explored many of the rivers of the world, such as the Grand Canyon the Cunene and the Zambezi. This exposure to the wild, combined with his love of nature led him to become a landscape architect by training and further develop his skills for environmental planning.

EDUCATION - After completing his studies, where he earned a BArch in Cape Town, a ML Arch in Pennsylvania and a PhD in Pretoria, he spent twenty years as Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, where he initiated a new direction in environmental planning and environmental impact studies. His Phd research was based on the development of a GIS program writing in Fortran for use in conservation areas that was acknowledged as the first GIS program in South Africa.

CONSERVATION - Professor van Riet is a former acting chairman, and has served as a member of the South African National Parks (SANParks) board for 15 years. During this period he was Chairman of the Conservation Committee of SANParks. His specialist knowledge has benefited conservation in Southern Africa over the past 20 years, as he has been involved in the planning, design and development of studies and projects covering numerous of national parks.

GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS - One of his particular fields of interest and expertise is the development of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). He assisted in establishing a laboratory that became the leading platform of GIS expertise in Southern Africa, and on joining the Foundation he established a GIS laboratory, whose expertise is widely used to assist all those involved in the development and management of peace parks. For his contribution to GIS development in Southern Africa, Peace Parks Foundation and Prof van Riet were awarded the ESRI Presidential Award for 2004 at the annual San Diego conference.

DECISION SUPPORT MODEL - During his years at the University of Pretoria he developed, under contract for the then Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, the Environmental Potential Atlas for South Africa. This was a GIS based atlas, which at provincial level had the ability to predict the environmental impact of any proposed development for any specific region in the provinces of South Africa. The atlas became well known with university students as well as practitioners and decision makers in the department. This atlas was first published during 1997.

DECISION SUPPORT MODEL - During 2009 Prof van Riet focused on the concept of Ecosystem Services both in the SADC region as well as South Africa. As all life is dependent on these services, understanding the life support process is important to all development. In order to understand these services, he developed a GIS database Decision Support Model for both SADC and South Africa. This database has the ability to determine conflict between the effects of policy as well as programs and plans of government. It was for example possible to determine the regions of conflict between biodiversity and food security as well as mining activities.

PHILOSOPHY - Prof van Riet’s view of conservation as a form of land use that is integrated with other forms of land-use has brought about innovative and exciting thinking in the planning of peace parks. He sees the establishment of Transboundary Conservation Areas as possibly the last attempt to link wilderness areas, thereby maintaining Africa's natural landscape and biodiversity as an integral whole. He maintains that the economic potential of Transboundary Conservation Areas will be the mechanism for people to help themselves, by utilizing natural resources to their benefit without destroying biodiversity.

POLITICAL - Prof van Riet is recognised for having transformed Dr. Rupert’s dream of peace parks into reality through the development of a team of specialists at the head office of Peace Parks Foundation in Stellenbosch as well as developing a special relationship with various officials, Presidents and Ministers in the SADC region, dealing with tourism and conservation. With the support of President Nelson Mandela all the presidents of SADC became members of PPF.

CULTURAL - The concept of Peace Parks was originally linked to biodiversity protection and wildlife migration but as the concept was further developed Prof Van Riet realized that conservation planning is for the benefit of people and that rural people are often forgotten in the eyes of governments. He realized that what was required was a new approach to conservation; rural people had to be included into the planning as well as in the distribution of benefits.

Over the last 5 years Prof van Riet has also been involved in the development of a small peace park between Israel and Palestine. This low key and secretive development has taken place between the two cities of Tulkarem and Emek Hefer. A number of workshops have been held in Palestine, Israel and Jordan and Prof van Riet facilitated the development of an action plan. Similar proposals were also developed for the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas and a number of visits to the region were undertaken. During 1991 he developed the first GIS based map of the Auzit proposals for RETOSA, which was the first actual identification of the KAZA as a concept TBCA.

He was involved as an advisor to Peace Parks Foundation Sweden with emphasis of this foundation on Southern Africa and based on his interest to promote TFCAs globally. 2011 he and Eveline van Riet Dietz established a Swedish based global NGO the Transboundary Conservation Foundation. The establishment of the TFCA between Sweden and Norway was the first of these globally focused projects. The foundation has together with SIDA (the Swedish International development Coperation Agency) worked on a project on the development of Buffer zones around the Kruger National Park in support of poverty alleviation. Currently the Transboundary Conservation Foundation focuses on the Kazuma Pan National Park project in cooperation with the Kalahari Sand Foundation in Zimbabwe.

Since 2011 he has also been working with SANParks on the development of a new tourism services in the Kruger National Park. This study utilized GIS information to develop a series of development scenarios in and around Kruger indicating, how land uses changes are effecting the Kruger National Park.

MINING CONSULTANCY During 2012 he became involved with Coal of Africa in developing a new approach to mining based on Ecosystem services. Using GIS he developed the Vhembe biosphere reserve database and planning proposals. During this the year he was involved in assisting the Heritage Impact Assessment team from from the University of Pretoria in completing the study for Mapungubwe. This involved studying the concept Outstanding Universal Values (OUV) and mapping this. These consulting projects are changing the way mining companies are looking at their development and their impact. He attended the UNESCO meeting in St Petersburg in Russia in support of the South African Department of Enevironmental Affairs' presentation. During the last part of 2012 he worked on the development of offset strategies for Coal of Africa on all their mineral right sites in the Limpopo province in South Africa.