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."

DMZ Meeting with Ted Turner CNN

DMZ Meeting with Ted Turner CNN


The Demilitarized zone is a strip of land between north and South Korea app. 4 km wide and 250km long. Due to the strong barrier fencing and the presence of a vast number of military from both sides, the landscape remains undisturbed for many years. During 2004 Dr Nelson Mandela, during a visit to South Korea, mentioned the idea of a Peace Park for the DMZ to the government in the South Korea. Later that year Prof Willem van Riet travel to South Korea to make a presentation at a conference on the idea of conservation area for the DMZ and some draft planning work he had completed. The concept was to expand the existing conservation areas in South Korea into a link across the DMZ into North Korea to form a conservation and tourism area in the north and to anchor the rest of the DMZ to this block. Other delegates at the conference in Seoul also mention the undisturbed status of the ecosystem due to absolute lack of any presence of people inside the 4 km strip of land stretching 250 km from south to north. We also met with the governor of the province bordering on the DMZ as well as Mr Ted Turner and spent two days traveling along the DMZ inspecting the landscape. Later that year I was called to a surprize visit to South African foreign affairs office for a meeting with a delegation to South Africa from North Korea. They had expressed an interest in this idea and wanted to enquire about the work we had done. They invited Prof van Riet and a South African delegation to visit the area but that did not materialise. After retiring from the Peace Parks Foundation I still retained strong interest in this concept and would really liked to play a part in the revitalization of this dream. I cannot think a more powerfull event to popularize the idea of Transboundary Conservation in the honour of Dr Nelson Mandela.

Click on the Images to enlarge.


Northern Mountains

Northern Mountians

View from the South-East and Seoel

View fromthe Southeast and Seoel

View from the North-East

View from the north east

Land cover

Land Cover



DeLorme base map and Conservation area

DeLorme base map and Conservation area

Published in Inspiration & Approach