#03 2023

NRF-SAEON in the media

Egagasini Node 

Dr Lara Atkinson, offshore marine scientist at SAEON’s Egagasini Node, is cited in an article published in Daily Maverick on June 7, SA scientists concerned as marine taxonomists become an increasingly endangered species. The article argues that there are not enough taxonomists to support the effective management and protection of South Africa’s rich marine biodiversity.

“I don’t know when I last saw a position advertised for a taxonomist in South Africa,” says Lara. “Our decision-makers need to be made aware of the importance of creating those posts.” This job shortage is a major deterrent for young would-be taxonomists when choosing their study field.

The article also mentions the important work done by the SeaMap project, which aims to support South Africa’s first data-driven marine ecosystem map, offering opportunities to students and developing taxonomy teaching materials for high school students.

Egagasini Node

An article titled NPO to Launch Oil Spill Model to Help South Africa Plan for and Protect Our Oceans, published on the Good Things Guy website on June 21, describes how a South African non-profit organisation, WILDTRUST, has spearheaded a project known as “Oil Spill Model for South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone”. This project aims to develop a model to predict the nature, behaviour and trajectory of oil spilled from offshore oil and gas extraction, thereby providing realistic scenarios for future assessment of environmental, social and economic risks of major blow-outs and routine spills from drilling sites being pursued in South Africa’s ocean.

This project is working closely with a range of participants including ocean modeller Dr Giles Fearon and SAEON.

13 reasons why you should celebrate MPA Day, an article inviting all South Africans to join in on all the MPA Day 2023 action, was published in Marketing Spread, South Coast Herald and South Africa Today on 26 June. The article mentions NRF-SAEON as one of the partners.

Ndlovu Node

An article titled WOODY ENCROACHMENT: Study examines impact of mopane infestation on ecosystem services was published in The Water Wheel of May/June 2023. It highlights the work of PhD student Tiffany Aldworth and SAEON Ndlovu Node scientists in exploring the effects of large-scale changes in vegetation due to mopane encroachment on freshwater resources at the Mthimkhulu research site, located approximately 40 km north of Phalaborwa in northeastern Limpopo.  

Tiffany is currently working on two more research papers using data collected at the Mthimkhulu site. The first paper investigates how mopane encroachment affects soil water processes and how much water is stored in the soil. The second is based on her study of the impact of woody encroachment on hydrological processes, but upscaled to a larger scale using remote sensing tools.  

“Mopane encroachment may have significant hydrological implications for the semi-arid savanna region of southern Africa,” she says. “We must upscale our in-situ results to determine how the hydrology of this region is being affected and to inform appropriate management responses.”