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."

This was personally one of the most interesting projects I have ever worked on. The planning for the Makhado Mine for Coal of Africa required a review of the Vhembe Biosphere reserve as well as the Nzhelele catchment basin and their ecosystem services. This review of all the mapped information was placed on a map composition in a sequence that would follow a thin red line of logic in one single map poster. It will require some detailed study by zooming in on each of the maps on the poster but will reveal the vast amount of information these maps contain. (see the download link at the end of this article for the full size version)

Friday, 30 January 2015 06:17

A Map is Worth a Thousand Words


On their 100-year celebration of making maps NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC published an interesting article, “The science and art of making maps”. It opened up my own thoughts on maps as I have often found that many people look at a map as a flat, fixed time arrangement of colours with no scale or orientation.

I have used maps from my early days of exploring rivers, through to the understanding of new landscapes and when depicting of land use proposals and ecosystem services. Often one would read scientific reports that does not include maps and contains only a descriptive text. For a single map to fulfil all these functions is a science, but the presentation is also an art when the mapped information is depicted in a map composition. A map is worth a thousand words.

Published in Atlas of the Globe