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."

Sunday, 18 January 2015 19:45

3 - Vhembe Biosphere Reserve

Please click here to download the larger version of the map composition (5mb)

Illustration of the application of Ecosystem Services as a management tool through the use of GIS

The Vhembe biosphere reserved is a proclaimed Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO. It is a perfect example of an island mountain, called the Soutpansberg, with high natural resources, surrounded by regions of lower resources. Millions of people in the surrounding regions are dependant on these ecosystem services (ESS).

It is also a perfect example of the environmental impact of the previous policy of apartheid. The eastern region of the mountain formed a part of the homeland of the Venda people and the western region fell under the control of the Transvaal administration, a part of South Africa. The western region is a sparsely populated, large farmland and the eastern region received people from all over South Africa, all relocated as a part of the former homeland policy. Although the Venda homeland was fortunate to share in the ESS from the mountain island, it became overpopulated over time and the environmental impact of agriculture, urbanization and forestry is very visible today.

Published in African Projects