The Garden Route Interface Meeting (GRIM) an inspiring event.

The Sustainability Research Unit co-hosted the 2018 Garden Route Interface Meeting (GRIM) which is an annual event taking place in the Garden Route and providing a forum for researchers and practitioners interested in better understanding and managing (or navigating) social-ecological systems and their complex interactions and feedbacks. The overall aim of the meeting is to promote knowledge sharing, dialogue and networking related to learning about and managing social ecological systems.

Both managers and scientists were invited to share their latest approaches, challenges, insights and findings. This year GRIM attracted 75 delegates from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Finland, Canada and France. There were over 40 talks across eight sessions falling within the themes on the use of social media to make sense of people-nature interactions; intertwined nature of social and ecological systems (connections, feedbacks, models); management approaches (stakeholder engagement, cooperative management, adaptive management); knowledge and learning for resilient social ecological systems (social learning, knowledge co-creation, transdisciplinary research). 

 Through the days the need for connecting people to nature, physically, mentally and spiritually and redefining and imagining views of nature and conservation emerged as a dominant conversation. Participants highlighted how citizen science and ecosystem services remains a valuable conceptual link and practical tool with which to reconnect humans and nature.  Social media tools are a largely untapped and a potential data resource in studying systems.  Participants felt that socio-ecological resilience in an uncertain and complex future is the goal. The need to take a complex, integrated and systemic view in a world obsessed with simple and singular solutions was highlighted where understanding feedbacks is critical as is co learning and reflexivity. The provisional dates for GRIM-2019 are 17-19 September 2019.

Following the GRIM event was the first Spring School on Social-Ecological Systems Research held on the George Campus and in Wilderness from the 5th to the 10th of October 2018. 

Photo: Delegates at the Garden Route Interface Meeting.



The inaugural Garden Route Interface Meeting was held during September 2017 at Pine Lake Marina near Sedgefield.

This meeting aims to facilitate networking and dialogue among practitioners and researchers interested in understanding and managing (or navigating) social-ecological systems and their complex interactions and feedbacks. The Interface meeting attracted 75 delegates in its first year and proceedings included 24 oral presentation, 14 poster presentations and 2 dialogue sessions. The main discussion themes were on the establishment of long-term social ecological research sites, methods for and challenges in studying social-ecological systems, sustainable resource use, adaptations and transformations in SES, ecosystem services and benefit flows, ways in which people connect with nature, and advice for bridging science-management divides.