Claremont, South Africa
I work for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). We are mandated to lead and coordinate research, and monitor and report on the state of biodiversity in South Africa. SANBI is unique in that it forms a host of functions, we have established botanical gardens spread throughout the country and are responsible for the management of these. Our gardens aid in showcasing biodiversity to the general public, and have educational programmes for schools and people in the communities surrounding each garden.
We also have a strong research focus in biosystematics and collections, applied biodiversity research, climate change and bio-adaptation, and biodiversity planning and policy advice. Our work ranges from work at grass roots level with our municipal programmes working with local people; our municipal programme supports local and district municipalities with biodiversity information and tools in order to plan better. We are also able to take key research and use it to inform policy work and we can drive research within the institution to address serious policy gaps.
I initially joined SANBI in 2005 working in the threatened species programme, I then went on the pursue my MSc in conservation biology in 2006 and worked on a SANBI project using GIS to identify threatened ecosystems based on threatened species associations. Since then, I worked on developing maps for all South Africa’s threatened ecosystems. I have done spatial analysis investigating how many threatened species are conserved inside and outside of protected areas for our CBD reports. I have worked on a project looking at conservation genetics of a threatened Protea with disjunct distributions on a highly fragmented landscape.
Since I rejoined SANBI after my MSc, in 2007, I feel like my biggest contributions have been in the listing of threatened terrestrial ecosystems and my work on the National Biodiversity Assessment 2011. My MSc work identified threatened ecosystems based on threatened species associations. I did some exploratory work on listing threatened ecosystems, and was instrumental in getting all the maps for each of the 220+ ecosystems into the working document. I also prepared the GIS data for serving it to the public, once the list was gazette and had legal implications through the Environmental impact Assessment process in South Africa.
For the National biodiversity assessment (NBA) I was tasked with doing an evaluation of where threatened s species are concentrated in South Africa, for reptiles, butterflies, birds and plants. I also had to assess the protection level of all South Africa’s vegetation types, by evaluating how well each vegetation type is represented in our protected area network. I did an analysis of how where the increase in protection has happened for our terrestrial environment since the last national spatial biodiversity assessment in 2004. I was also tasked with creating the very first point locality map of medicinal plants for South Africa. In addition, I had to write and edit the terrestrial component report and create numerous maps for the NBA 2011’s summary report, its terrestrial component and one ma for the freshwater component. I am also responsible for creating the text for the page, blurbs and metadata that will be served with this data.