Fynbos forum foray

Babalwa Mqokeli
11 August 2014

It was a privilege to be able to present results from the first year of our Tsitsikamma Fynbos Research Program at the forum. Seeing the interest in our work consolidated for me the importance of the research we do in the bigger picture of Fynbos conservation in the Biome. It was great networking with passionate conservationists!”- Mark Brown, NVT Program Director.

Fynbos Forum 1

A good turn-out for the Fynbos forum.

The NVT team had the opportunity to attend the 2014 Fynbos Forum held in Knysna last week. This is an annual meeting of researchers, planners, and various other stakeholders discussing a range of issues and results as well as formulating future research plans in conservation management, in particular, the sustainability of fynbos ecosystems. This year’s forum took place in the conference rooms of the Premier Hotel in Knysna, attracted speakers that play a role in the environmental sector to present and discuss their past, present and future conservation and management related research. Our team had the privilege of being sponsored to attend this forum, which we are incredibly grateful for.

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NVT team amongst the crowd…listening intently.

It was very informative and I felt inspired seeing what other people are doing out there, not only for Fynbos but for the environment in general.Yanga Manyakanyaka, NVT intern.

The week kicked off promptly with a rather animated workshop based around the baboon-human conflict in the Western Cape, the presentations ranging from evidence based management approaches to the personal experiences of residents in the Knysna area. The outcomes of this particular workshop were that communication between researchers, SANParks and the public needed to be improved with increased sharing of management ideas…SHARING IS CARING!

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Mark looking scared as he’s about to go and present.

‘‘Every time I’m in the office and going out there’s a new lesson. The four days I was attending the fynbos forum I feel like I’m in the plant studies classroom which is something never happened as I am the long distance learning UNISA student. I’ve gained a lot of experience in many different activities. The skill of presenting and the set-up of PowerPoint presentations was the best. Never forget the cruise, being in the boat for 3 hours was an exciting moment’’- Noluyolo Obose, NVT intern.

Fynbos Forum bird ringing

Minke explaining to our visitors the process of bird ringing.

The next few days were characterised by sessions of talks on community based management, ecological research (including urban ecology), fire management, climate change and biological invasion, with an underlying theme of biodiversity and conservation.

The Fynbos forum was very interesting and informative. I made some good friends and met amazing people.” – Kellyn Whitehead, NVT volunteer.

“Being at the forum enabled me to see how other organisations deal with their ecological issues at their respective areas and that has helped give ideas on how to deal with similar problems and the chance to better the already established programmes within our organisation” – Ruth Moeti, NVT intern.

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Mark presenting NVTs Tsitsikamma Fynbos research.

Fynbos Forum group photo

Group photo!

The sessions also included field trips on Wednesday afternoon in and around Knysna, covering a variety of fields in conservation and the natural heritage of the area. The NVT team had the pleasure of leading out a troop into the Nature’s Valley Fynbos, where both bird ringing and a guided bird walk lead by Alan Lee and Minke Witteveen took place. Meanwhile, other members of the team voyaged out on the Knysna boat trip, and enjoyed the beautiful clear waters whilst being educated on the estuary’s history and the foundations of the important seahorse research in the area.

“As a conservation biology student from the UK, every presentation I attended had a new and interesting angle for me. It was exciting to be in a room full of great minds all working to achieve great science and effective management of such a special pocket of the world.”- Katie Powell, NVT volunteer.

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Part of the team enjoying the boat cruise.

This forum and many others prove to be a great platform for innovative planning and growth in the conservation matters of this country, ultimately promoting environmental sustainability. NVT is once again grateful to have been part of this programme and the opportunity to contribute to the most biologically diverse plant kingdom in the world through our Tsitsikamma Fynbos Research Project.

‘‘It was good to see the positive impact and effort people put in protecting and promoting this country’s natural resources, how each of us have a role in the conservation sector’’- Babalwa Mqokeli, NVT intern.