David Allan

South Africa
Durban Natural Science Museum
BII expert in: Birds

l have spend the past 40+ years working in the field of southern African ornithology based in the spheres of a provincial conservation agency, a university (University of Cape Town) and a museum. My research interests have been broad, as reflected in my contribution to the Southern African Bird Atlas Project which covered all avian species in the region and my museum work which similarly covers the full range of avian diversity. My career stated in conservation and this has remained a focus throughout my subsequent work.

One striking example of a human activity/development/land-use change impacting biodiversity with which I am familiar is the impact of large dams and associated infrastructure on the highlands of Lesotho. These massive engineering projects not only have a direct impact in terms of huge areas inundated and downstream flows affected, they also introduce a myriad of additional infrastructure that have equally negative effects, e.g. roads, powerlines, etc. It is a sound lesson in how biodiversity is often best protected through inaccessibility. It is unclear how much these developments, designed to benefit people distance from the highlands, improve the well-being of the folk living in the highlands and arguably the ‘owners’ of the resource being exploited by outsiders.