In recent years there has been growing popularity of a group of medicinal plants in the Apocynaceae family locally known in Namibia as 'Dhingila'. The root of these plants is claimed to cure various ailments, including cancer. Concern over unsustainable harvesting practices has prompted the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism to take conservation action. There has been some confusion, however, regarding the botanical name of the plants, with some media articles citing an unrelated species that is also reported to “cure” cancer.
The Palaeo Lab at the Plant Conservation Unit is seeking papers for a Special Issue of Quaternary Journal. This is linked to a symposium that co-organised by Dr Estelle Razanatsoa, A/Prof, Lindsey Gillson and Prof. Rob Marchant at the ATBC 2020 in Cartagena https://atbc2020.org/.
Please see the website for more information: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/quaternary/special_issues/ATBC#info
In late September, Glynis Humphrey (Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Conor Eastment (Masters student) and Adele Julier (Postdoctoral Research Fellow) travelled to Bwabwata National Park in northern Namibia to conduct fieldwork including repeat photography, ground-truthing for remote sensing and modern pollen trap deployment.
UCT PhD graduate Zander Venter (image below) and former Plant Conservation Unit (PCU) research assistant, Samantha Venter, attended the Geo for Good Summit in Sunnyvale California from 16 – 19 September 2019. This year, the summit combined the Earth Engine User Summit and Earth Outreach’s Geo for Good User Summit to "bring together the Earth Engine and Earth Outreach communities to one larger event where scientists, non-profits and change-makers can learn from each other and potentially collaborate on projects for positive impact for our planet and its inhabitants."
Several Namibian botanists recently visited Lubango in southern Angola to explore opportunities for collaboration with the Herbarium of Lubango and tertiary institutions, as part of the Bio-Bridge Initiative of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The co-ordinator of the project, Plant Conservation Unit PhD student Kirsti Nghidinwa, was part of the trip. Apart from institutional visits, the visitors welcomed the chance to botanise around Lubango. Despite the generally dry condition of the veld at that time of the year, Angola’s remarkable botanical diversity nevertheless had something in store for the southern neighbours, who filled up SD cards with photos of breath-taking scenery and plants.
Last month, Estelle Razanatsoa, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Plant Conservation Unit (PCU), along with Glynis Humphrey (Postdoctoral Research Fellow) and Tsilavo Razafimanantsoa (PhD student), spent time in Madagascar to attend the 56th annual meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) and to conduct fieldwork in the Northwest of the island.
Plant Conservation Unit research assistant, Hana Petersen, presented the rePhotoSA project, which she coordinates, at the Biodiversity Information Management and Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (BIM-FBIP) joint forum on 19 – 22 August 2019. The forum focused largely on biodiversity open data supporting open science, technology and innovation, following the recent white paper on Science, Technology and Innovation. Several key sessions explored regional biodiversity information efforts in Africa, biodiversity information management priorities in museums and herbaria, and innovative tools and applications to support research and development. The rePhotoSA project fell within the latter session, and was well-received by the audience, resulting in interesting discussion and brainstorming as to how historical photographs can be used in other spheres of research.
The Plant Conservation Unit is pleased to announce the publication of an exciting new paper by María J. Ramos-Román, Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno, R. Scott Anderson, Antonio García-Alix, Jon Camuera, Jose M. Mesa-Fernández and Saúl Manzano in Global and Planetary Change. The article is titled "Climate contolled historic olive tree occurrences and olive oil production in southern Spain" and is part of the November 2019 issue. The article provides evidence of centennial-scale climate variability in the occurrence of Olea (olive trees), suggesting conditioning of olive production by climate historically. The abstract is provided below but the full paper may be downloaded here.
The Plant Conservation Unit is pleased to announce the publication of an exciting new paper by Lindsey Gillson, Cathy Whitlock and Glynis Humphrey in Ecology and Society. The article is titled "Resilience and fire management in the Anthropocene" and was published in August 2019. The article provides insights into the role of long-term fire data in linking climate, vegetation, fire regimes and human influences, and how this influences management. The abstract is provided below but the full paper may be downloaded here.
The Plant Conservation Unit is pleased to announce the publication of an exciting new paper by Joseph M. Hulbert, Sophia C. Turner, and Samantha L. Scott in the South African Journal of Science. The article is titled, "Challenges and solutions to establishing and sustaining citizen science projects in South Africa” and was published online in July 2019. The abstract is provided below but the full paper may be downloaded here.
Plant Conservation Unit (PCU) Ph.D. student Estelle Razanatsoa graduated from the University of Cape Town (UCT) on Friday 12 July 2019. Estelle was supervised by Associate Prof. Lindsey Gillson (PCU), Dr. Stephan Woodborne (iThemba Lab, Johannesburg) and Dr. Malika Virah-Sawmy (Geography Department, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin).
Prof. Timm Hoffman (PCU Director) and Gina Arena (PhD student) attended and presented some of their research at the GSSA 2019 Congress from 30 June - 4 July. The congress was held in Upington in the Northern Cape during what felt like one of the coldest weeks this winter. Gina presented some of her data from her first thesis chapter on long-term vegetation changes in the eastern Karoo. Timm gave the closing keynote address on the long-term environmental monitoring programme in Riemvasmaak in the Northern Cape.