Ancois de Villiers, PhD candidate in the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, recently received the PeerJ Award for Best Student Presentation at the International Mediterranean Ecosystems Conference (MEDECOS 2022) held at Langebaan, South Africa, from 5 to 9 September.
Ancois presented some of the emerging findings from her transdisciplinary exploration of collaborative landscape-based initiatives for sustainability. Her research focuses on certain implementation challenges associated with supporting, tracking, and evaluating the psycho-social dimensions involved in the impacts and dynamics of ecosystem rehabilitation.
The study is a collaboration between Dutch and South African institutions, as well as academics and practitioners. This includes the interdisciplinary contributions of the supervision team of Prof Karen Esler (Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, SU), Prof Marja Spierenburg (Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University), and Dr Jessica Cockburn (Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University). The study is designed and carried out in collaboration with Living Lands, a non-profit company that facilitates landscape-based rehabilitation projects in South Africa in partnership with Commonland, a Dutch-based initiative promoting both socio-economic and ecological outcomes for sustainability. The research is supported by an NRF-Nuffic Doctoral Scholarship and a GreenMatter Fellowship Bursary.
The contributions of the various collaborators have been fundamental to current achievements and progress made, providing perspectives, resources, and insights in unpacking the complexity, uncertainty and contestation involved in rehabilitating landscapes across national, institutional and practice partnerships.
The MEDECOS 2022 conference itself saw significant participation by the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology. The conference was organised by the Fynbos Forum (43‑year old partnership, chaired by Dr Martina Treurnicht) for ISO‑MED (51‑year old International Society for Mediterranean Ecology), of which Prof Esler is the regional representative.