AZEF 2013 Looks at Emerging Threats and Implications for Management

azef 2013The Arid Zone Ecology Forum (AZEF) held it 28th conference from the 3rd to the 5th of September at the Lady Oppenheimer Hall, McGregor Museum in Kimberley  and was attended by a network of 100 people from state, provincial, educational and research institutions.

 The theme of the conference was Emerging threats in the arid zone: building knowledge and developing solutions Part 2: Implications for management, and was set in motion by a meet-and-greet function which was held at the Foyer of the Sanatorium, McGregor Museum. The AZEF community has expanded as this year’s forum attracted participants from Botswana, Angola, Namibia, Germany and Australia. There were also 32 students from 14 different universities which was exceptional. 

Papers, posters, presentations and discussions focused on themes such as Animal Studies; Above and Below ground interactions;  Karoo Geology & Fracking; Climate Science; Alien Invasives; Rehabilitation Studies; Farmers Session;  Environmental Management; Monitoring and Change; Veld and Grazing Management  and Okavango.

Field trips consisted of visits to Magersfontein, Benfontein, The Big Hole, Felidea Wildcat Rehabilitation Centre, & Nooitgedacht.  

The SKEP Coordination Unit would like to congratulate the following prize winners:

Best Poster: Ms. Jamie Paulse, from University of the Western Cape: “The Impacts of Different Stocking Rates on Vegetation within the Three Peaks Conservancy in the Kamiesberg Uplands”.

Runner Up : Mr Luke Gallant, University of the Western Cape: “Can heuweltjies be used as indicators of veld condition and grazing capacities in semi-arid regions with winter rainfall?”.

Best Paper:  Christiaan Harmse, North West University, Potchefstroom: “Bush encroachment and related mitigation actions in the Molopo savanna of South Africa: implications for grass composition forage production and grazing capacity”.

Runner Up: Robbert Duker, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University: “The effects of frost on Nama-Karoo and Thicket: Biome boundaries explored”.

There were also a few changes made in the AZEF committee structure, as the chair Clement Cupido was replaced by Christy Bragg. Cupido was thanked for his serving time as chair and more importantly for his role in getting AZEF to acquire NPO registration and status. 

The AZEF community hopes that there will be greater cooperation and sharing knowledge and expertise for future conferences. For 2014, the AZEF is considering joining with the Thicket Forum next year. Watch this space for the outcome, venue and dates for AZEF 2014.

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