Mike Peel, Dr.

South Africa
Agricultural Research Council of South Africa
BII expert in: Large herbivores, large carnivores and plants

I set up the Savanna Ecosystem Dynamics research programme in the eastern Lowveld in 1989. Projects include working in South Africa, Mozambique (Zinave and Gorongosa), Zimbabwe and Gabon. Long term grass and tree composition and structure data (1989-present) and geo-referenced animal data from aerial surveys (1992-present) – one of the longest formal ecological monitoring/research programmes in southern Africa. Data are collected annually largely in savanna rangelands covering some 7 750 km2 in extent. Strong applied science-management focus with over 340 land user reports linked to some 60 peer reviewed scientific journal articles and six book chapters. AfrEcology was established to complement the programme and expand the network of applied ecologists.

The conservation sector is coming under increasing pressure to provide social and economic benefits to stakeholder communities around protected areas. Over and above direct beneficiation, there is an increasingly dense human and associated livestock and domestic animal component in close proximity to protected areas. The latter as well as management actions within protected areas (fencing, water provisioning) comes with an associated reduction in biodiversity (visual here not quantified). Figure 1 illustrates the impact of increasing populations on the border of protected areas; Figure 2 illustrates the impact of agriculture bordering protected areas; Figure 3 illustrates the impact of fencing, artificial water provision and elephant within protected areas – note impact on tree layer; Figure 4 illustrates the effect of surface mining.