KAZA, as it is generally known, is one of the greatest global conservation projects. The website gives a very good view of the activities of the last few years and the scope and size of its activities is breath taking.

A workshop investigating the state of the development of KAZA is soon to be held at Victoria Falls at the end of October. My invitation to attend brought back memories of my original involvement with this amazing conservation initiative.

At the time I was at the University of Pretoria running the Department of Landscape Architecture advising Dr. Anton Rupert about the Great Limpopo TFCA. A phone call Dr Rupert, about a map he needed to present at a SADC meeting in Walvisbaai, was my first introduction to this huge area in the upper Zambezi catchment.

This map was followed by two studies called OUZIT and expanded OUZIT. These two studies focussed mainly on the tourism component of this region and on the development potential through the creation of infrastructure. These studies where initiated by the DBSA and a Mr Ken Small a enthusiastic American.

It has been very difficult to find copies of these two studies. Below is the reference to the first of these. These studies originally drew attention to the Ministers of Tourism of the five countries of the upper Zambezi River but later shifted its focus to the conservation components of biodiversity.

DBSA/DTI. 1999. Preliminary project scan for scoping assessment for the Okavango Upper Zambezi
International Tourism Study (OUZIT). Main Report. Development Bank of Southern Africa/Department of Trade and Industry. Midrand: with DHV Consultants, Willem van Riet Landscape - Architects, Steward Scott, Grant Thornton Kessel Feinstein.

I hope you enjoy reviewing the amazing progress by studying the website of the secretariat in Kasane Botswana.


Water is one of the most easily understood of all the ecosystems services nature provides for human kind. The fact that the management of catchments basins and the mountains that provides this resource is a crucial ecosystem services activity, is not so obvious. This article makes it very clear that the limiting effect of reduced ecosystem services that originates from the upper catchments is arriving now not in the future.

A point of view that I have been promoting for some time is that the protection of ecosystems services should receive higher priority when deciding on the allocating of land for conservation purposes. Pure biodiversity arguments will not hold water when the crisis arrives like it is now arriving in India.

A frightening picture of the future is sketched in this article.

For review of a South African illustration have a look at the previous blog about the Nzelele catchment basin in the Limpopo province.

It is with great pride and pleasure that I announce that the ESRI Conservation Grant was awarded to myself and the TRANSBOUNDARY CONSERVATION FOUNDATION.

This is indeed a great honour and would allow the Foundation access to all the new software linked to the enormous ESRI GIS platform and will also allow access the vast amount of new environmental data that is being made available by ESRI to all Conservation projects. The world is changing around us and so is the use of GIS software and information through use of Apps instead of complex programs.

I hope to be making use of this in the near future to provide our many conservation projects with new skills.

Thank you all at ESRI South Africa and ESRI USA!




Story Map of a kayak expedition that I undertook during 1963 down the then unexplored Kunene River in southern Angola. The article in four pages is accompanied by clips from Apple Maps illustrating the important geographic features of this amazing landscape.


One of the most interesting and unique conservation areas in Africa. This is my story of my relationship with the establishment of the Park. This image of the Pilanesberg ring complex brought back many good memories of my days as a consultant to the North West Province (Baphutatswana) government. During 1978 Dr. Ken Tinley and myself were appointed by the provincial government to investigate and create a national park covering the total volcanic circle. See below for the full story map 

At the recent ESRI Africa Conference in Cape Town I was asked to present the Conservation group session with a presentation themed, Conservation and Ecosystem Services. The most interesting aspect of the conference was the meeting with Jack Dangermond the head of ESRI global as well getting exposed to the new direction the world renowned GIS company is taking. The most interesting was the movement to Cloud for data and software as well as the importance of Apps for user-friendly communication between all conservationists. One of the most interesting Apps was that of Story Maps. This App allows one to tell a story line with maps derived from the GIS platform in a most logical and interesting way. These Apps can be utilized on all platforms such as Apple. This is an approach I will be following as many people do not have access to GIS software or technology but would still like to derive benefit from geography. I have now placed the first of these presentations on Kazuma pan below. I hope you find the exposure to GIS technology interesting.


Click here to view the Storymap in full screen mode 

I recently had the opportunity to present a keynote address to the conservation group at the ESRI User Conference Africa in Cape Town. It gave me the chance to expose our work on Ecosystem Services as a conservation priority.  Of special interest was the memo of October 7th 2015 from President Obama to the US government to commence developing policies on Ecosystem Services. Please click below to download and view my full presentation at the ESRI User

Please click below to download and view the full presentation from the ESRI User Conference Africa:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Human Footprint Video 1

Europe-SADC Video 2

ESRI Website


Myself, Eveline van Riet(Transboundary Foundation) and Jack Dangermond(ESRI President)


It is sometimes difficult to think globally, but the availability of information and data on a global scale gives us the ability to do so today. The concept of the carrying capacity for humans and its resource utilization impact on the planet is reviewed with this interesting review. It is clear that in a very short space in time we have exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth for mankind. What we are going to do about this is difficult to imagine. Bamboo, as a highly renewable resource, could potentially reverse the devastating effect of deforestation around the world and help to limit man's impact on the globe. One such company trying to promote bamboo flooring as an alternative to hardwoods is Eco Bamboo Africa.

Click here for the full article: We’ve Consumed More Than the Earth Can Produce This Year

I find this map perspective and accompanying article simply amazing. The three dimensional ability as well as the time component in the presentation is mind-boggling. The overall spacing of time in geologic terms is fascinating and shows the changing events influencing our environments through the ages. Where we are going with our environmental impact of the current civilization is difficult to imagine today, especially when viewing our time on earth as rather short when measured in geologic time span.

Click Here for the full article

As a firm believer in the value of maps, I found this article very illuminating. A map is a three-dimensional image on paper and often tells many stories through the layers of information each maps can be composed of. Pictures are more superficial and are more based on colour, texture and composition rather than content. National Geographic has been at the forefront of the science of mapping but in the recent past we have had NASA and their various satellites producing more and more maps of extreme quality and depth of knowledge. In the science of GIS, the individual layers are often grouped together from separate layers of information to become, through overlays, one single image with vast depth of knowledge available to the viewer. 

Click Here for the Full Article

It is truly unbelievable that countries and governments cannot protect their natural resources and especially their wildlife. The central African states such as Kenya and Tanzania are very much dependant, from tourism point of view, on the image and the reality of their wildlife numbers. These resources cannot come back once destroyed, to move and relocate wild life is very difficult and expensive and they really have to migrate back once destroyed. This has become very difficult due the fast changes in land use and the ever increasing isolation of the wildlife populations. It seems that the Chinese, politicians and the underfunding of parks staff together is a recipe for destruction.

Full Article: Click Here

We have become so used to the fact that man made structures can be proclaimed as historical monuments if ISIS does not destroy them. This article on the termites is fascinating.

During a period of working with a mining company on developing new methods of dealing with environmental impact, through identifying ecosystem services as the measure of the environmental impact, I often used the structure and functionality of in a termite mound as en example of ecological efficiency. When measured against the challenges a mine is facing when working underground these termites are amazing.

That their structures are now found to be long living and have survived over many years refocuses my attention onto these wonderful animals. In the era of only looking at large species these small species are often forgotten. In terms of biomass, termites are seen to be one of the most important species on earth.

Full Article: Click Here

This article gives some real information on the value that hunting delivers to conservation in general and rural regions specifically. The financial value of this kind of activity is very clearly explained and supports the overall benefit of conservation as a land use protecting ecosystem services. In Africa today the loss of habitat, loss of wildlife due to poaching is of immediate threat. Once it is gone it will never come back.

The emotional outburst to the Cecil incident is astonishing considering the dramatic increase in the threat to wild life in rural areas of Africa. The use of satellite imaging gives real indications of change through activities such as agriculture and deforestation through logging as well as the uncontrolled growth in destructive land use activities that arrives with presence of roads and access such as bush meat poaching.

Hunting by giving value can counter these forces and allow rural communities some benefit.

Full Article: 10 consequences of banning trophy hunting in SA

I have always thought that surface water will be restricting our current way of life on earth very much sooner than climate change and carbon. By looking at this study the groundwater, a resource much less is known about, will also be in trouble. These resources take a lot longer than surface water resource to recover. Many of them will never and they are probably the most important ecosystem service resources.

Full Article: A third of the world’s biggest groundwater basins are in distress

A very interesting article on the improved measurement techniques from satellites and NASA, indicating that the volumes of sea ice in the Artic actually increased. It supports the idea, that climate change has become so politicised that it is difficult to determine fact from fiction.

Click Here for full article: Arctic sea ice volume showed strong recovery in 2013


This was the most important event that changed the earth forever and introduced life on Earth as we know it. The first approximation of life on Earth was thought to be about 3.5 billion year ago and even in South Africa there is evidence of that in the rocks of the Mpumalanga escarpment. According to this research the oxygen appearance was a billion years earlier. During this period of climate change it is important to understand the previous history of the development of climate and life.

BBC: The Event That Transformed The Earth

A GIS based map indicating the arch of volcanic islands and mountain backbone of Cameroon. The red line indicates the Cameroon border. Note the volcanic islands in the ocean.

Recently I had the opportunity of visiting the Crater Lake region of Cameroon in the northwest province of the country. A series of craters and crater lakes dominate the mountain backbone of Cameroon. This specific lake became a crater of enormous interest due to the incredible effect of the spread of carbon dioxide through upwelling into the lake water body itself which then spills down the surrounding valleys, killing people and cattle. It took quite a while before scientists could determine the cause of this natural disaster. This NASA article explains the events before and after very well.

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