Highlighting the career of Prof Willem van Riet, directing innovative conservation initiatives in Africa, illustrating his experiences and approach through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

An all-inclusive approach to conservation was instigated by numerous adventures on wild rivers in the 60’s and developed through academic research at Universities in Philadelphia (USA) and Pretoria (South Africa). GIS software, data and processes were harnessed throughout his career in support of planning, scientific analyses and fundraising.  Projects and programmes will be illustrated through a number themes. This approach was implemented during his years on the SANParks Board and on transboundary initiatives in Southern Africa during his 10 years as the CEO of the Peace Parks Foundation. Recently he has functioned as a consulted through the Swedish entity (Transboundary Conservation Foundation).

"I hope that the review of these conservation projects, as a journey of discovery through the use of GIS and maps, will be of assistance to conservation development in many parts of the world. I would like to iterate that the content of this site reflects my own personal point of view and is based on my personal experiences."

Dams were often developed without the overall planning and environmental management in countries such as the USA and Canada, where hydropower are seen as essential and urgent.

This video therefore makes interesting viewing: Elwha River Unplugged: Whitewater Remade as Salmon Return

Here is another very interesting video of the breaking of the Condit Dam: Spectacular Time Lapse Dam "Removal" Video

In most of the east coast of the USA in states such as California, Washington and British Columbia in Canada numerous dams and hydropower plants have been there for years, often with catastrophic effects on the migration of salmon and the life of the first nation Indian people.

The history of the creation of the Limpopo National Park, adjacent to the Kruger National Park, has become obscured with time and with the growth of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. It is still relevant as this event marked the start of the establishment and growth of the Peace Parks Foundation, one of the most successful and influential NGO’s in Africa.

It was during the early days of 1991 that the SA Nature Foundation, later to become WWF South Africa, requested Dr Ken Tinley and myself to conduct a report on the potential for this, the first of many transfrontier parks in Southern Africa. Dr Ken Tinley had worked in Mozambique and its conservation areas for many years and became wellknown for his brilliant study of the Gorongoza National Park in Mozambique as the subject of his PHD thesis. He also had specific knowledge of the Catado 16, the controlled hunting area next to the Kruger National Park’s eastern fence, and understood the culture of the region well through his knowledge of Portuguese.

Published in African Projects
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 05:33

7 - Announcement of Possible Rhino Trade

This very relevant and welcome announcement of Environment Minister Edna Molewa reached me this morning. This could just be the event that brings about the turning of the cycle of despair. Congratulation Minister Molewa:


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa today introduced the Committee of Inquiry tasked with investigating the feasibility of a trade in rhino horn.

On 22 January 2014 Minister Molewa announced that once pre-screening and vetting by the State Security Agency (SSA) was completed, that the names would be publically released.

Wednesday, 07 January 2015 11:45

1 - African Projects: Introduction

An illustration of a series of projects in Africa covering many divergent challenges for conservation.

Through my training and education, some of the most interesting research and planning occurred within national parks. Conservation covers many types of protected areas. A large number of studies and planning projects that I was involved in has contributed to my approach. These projects have focused on the park, regional, provincial, national and international scale.

Published in African Projects
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 11:41

3 - Understanding Conservation

Introduction of the theoretical basis for conservation and ecosystem services as a support model for decisionmaking.

Conservation was originally seen as an act of protection for scenic beauty and tourism values. The culling of excess numbers of wildlife was and is still frowned upon. Management was seen as a necessary evil and protected areas became more and more isolated in the changing world. Pressure from immediate surroundings increased the importance of management. Management goals and objectives had to be adjusted when conservation changed from the protection of natural resources to a form of land use that benefits surrounding human populations. Various projects based on conservation and ecosystems services (ESS) as an indispensable element will be illustrated.