The Fynbos Forum is an annual scientific gathering of leading Western Cape researchers and practitioners who work in the Cape Floristic Region, also known as Fynbos. The 2014 Forum, the 36th of its kind, took place from 4-7 August in Knysna. It was attended by close to 200 talented researchers and practitioners doing excellent work on social, ecological and species conservation.

Being in our ‘back yard’, NMMU staff and Research Associates were well represented. NMMU George Campus academics delivered four of the six invited plenary keynote addresses and two NMMU students delivered papers, one of which won the prize for best over-all presentation, and one which was runner-up in the student presentations category.


Plenary keynote addresses

SRU members Christo Fabricius, Bianca Currie and Aneri Roos presented the opening plenary address on ‘Local participation and ecosystem stewardship in the Garden Route’ after facilitating a very successful stakeholder panel discussion on the same topic the previous day. Dirk Roux, SRU Research Associate, presented a keynote address on the role of wetlands in setting targets  for conservation action.  Corli Coetsee and Ben Wigley of the School of Natural Resource Management presented a keynote address on boundaries between forest and Fynbos, while Tineke Kraaij (newly-appointed SNRM Research Associate) gave a keynote address on fire ecology in Fynbos.

Student presentations

SRU PhD student Maretha Alant (registered in the Zoology Dept) won the prize for the best conference presentation for her work on landscape connectivity and mammal movements in the buffer zone of Garden Route National Park, while SRU MSc student Kate Southey (also registered in the Zoology Dept) was nominated as runner-up for the best student presentation for her work on conservation priorities in the Garden Route. Both students are co-supervised by Profs Graham Kerley and Christo Fabricius.

Workshops organized

Bianca Currie, Aneri Roos and Christo Fabricius of the Sustainability Research Unit organized and facilitated a well attended panel discussion with a typical group of Garden Route civil society stakeholders, where challenges and solutions to public participation were discussed. Andrea Beyers, an MSc student in Botany, and Richard Cowling, Distinguished Professor, co-organized a pre-conference workshop on Honeybush cultivation.

NMMU looks forward to continuing its support of the Fynbos Forum as it moves into its 37th year.