Workshop in Namaqualand

Published: 13 July 2009
We have just returned from a most inspiring workshop in Namaqualand. A broad, inter-disciplinary project is being proposed for the area and a funding application is currently under review. Namaqualand is already an arid area, considered as a biodiversity 'hotspot'.
Climate projections predict that this region will be heavily affected by climate change. The goal of the project will be to establish the best use and management of rangeland in a way that both utilizes and sustains ecosystem functions and services. With this in mind, we form part of a team of scientists looking at subjects such as soil, water, plants, animals, farming techniques, policy, and more importantly, how these are all linked to one another.
 Workshop in Namaqualand
The proposed project also uses a particular methodology, known as Participatory Action Research. In a nutshell, this means that researchers work closely with land users and other stakeholders, and that the research actually leads to action, to decisions in land use and management being taken and then being applied. We will seek solutions, based on thorough research, with the people who live in Namaqualand.
One of the activities during the planning workshop we participated in was a stake-holders workshop. This included commercial farmers, community farmers, municipality representatives, NGOs, and nature conservation - a diversity of concerns and needs... 
The role of the Cape Leopard Trust will be to research the impact of various land use and predator management practices on the ecosystem and how this in turn affects land-users. To us, the combination of interdisciplinary and action-based research is extremely exciting. 
Quinton and Elizabeth Martins

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