Honorary Research Associate

Dr Peter Carrick

PhD (Cambridge)

Cell: +27 82 354 9842






I completed my BSc (Hons) degree at the University of Cape Town in 1994, with first-class majors in Zoology and Botany. I developed a fascination with plant-animal interactions, particularly plant-herbivore interactions, at this time, and undertook research in both marine and terrestrial systems. Since then I have enjoyed research positions that have taken me from investigations of nutrient availability in the seas around Antarctica to analysing spatial pattern in the tropical forest communities of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 1996 I returned to South Africa and my fascination settled on semi-deserts. Between 1997 and 2001 I undertook a PhD at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, on a number of aspects relating to plant community dynamics of the Succulent Karoo. I continued this research through a post-doc at the University of Cape Town in 2003 and 2004. Key themes of this research include: Competition both between adult plants, and between adult plants and seedlings (the dynamics that limit establishment); the role of the size of rainfall events in controlling the distribution of functional types and biodiversity across biomes; the role of nitrogen, and other nutrients, in semi-deserts (distribution and effects within soils, for primary producers and for herbivores); and mechanisms of plant-herbivore interactions that drive vegetation change.

In 2005 I initiated the Namaqualand Restoration Initiative, a research, advocacy and implementation program involving three senior research staff, and numerous partner organisations and individuals. The principle achievements of the initiative have been the development of methods and systems for the restoration of the pre-existing ecosystems and biodiversity on areas degraded by mining and other land-uses. The initiative was research-led through incisive studies in the field, glasshouse and laboratory. The development of 'Restoration Packs' has been particularly successful in recreating and utilising resource concentrating patch-dynamics for restoration (as opposed to agricultural or horticultural derived methods which homogenise or destroy patches).

Since 2008 I have also been the director of Nurture Restore Innovate, which aims to provide long-term ecological advice, support and mentoring to projects or practices that affect landscapes at larger scales. Nurture Restore Innovate extends the work of the Namaqualand Restoration Initiative, both geographically, and by creating systems to implement the restoration at scale. This initiative has created, and supported, 30 full-time, potential career-path jobs, and the creation of two ecological restoration businesses entirely owned and managed by people from the region. The initiative advocated for ecological restoration by mining operators through a variety of national and international fora. This ogether with developing mine-site based restoration solutions that were integrated into the mining business, resulted in the large-scale implementation of biodiversity restoration in Namaqualand's lowlands. Other major projects include: specialist mine closure planning and implementation, in which strategies were developed for transitioning the local economy from minerals extraction to an alternative green economy; and land management planning and implementation that aims to enhance biodiversity conservation concomitant with current land-uses.

Research Interests

My academic research has been focused on semi-deserts generally, and on the Succulent Karoo biome specifically. Primary interests include:

  • Drivers of ecosystem function and ecosystem change, including the mechanisms of change that are determined by human land-uses.
  • Understanding and utilizing ecological dynamics to re-create soil pattern and function, and to re-establish complex indigenous plant communities (i.e. the interface of ecology and restoration).
  • Soil-plant-animal and climate interactions.

In my research I endeavour to utilise observations at the individual plant scale to provide insight to understanding pattern at biome scale.

Projects and Teaching

I run a three-week intensive Disturbance and Restoration Ecology Module, which incorporates field-work and a written scientific report, on UCT's MSc Conservation Biology program.

I am Currently Supervising one MSc student at the University of Namibia and one MSC and one PhD student at the University of Cape Town.
Through the NRI I run three major research projects:

  • Continuing to improve the restoration of sand and coastal systems in the Namaqualand lowlands - research is now focusing on restoring steep slopes and saline soils
  • Developing patch or 'island' based restoration methods for the cleared, ploughed and severely overgrazed Namaqualand upland systems - developing and promoting the patch-dynamics started by early-succession shrubs
  • Restoring waste large rock dumps in Namibia's escarpment systems to be similar in shape, function, and the major species and functional group composition to the surrounding rocky hills.

Selected Publications

J.J. James, P.J. Carrick, 2016. Toward quantitative dryland restoration modelsRestoration Ecology 24: 85–90.

P.J. Carrick, T. Erickson, C. Becker, E. Mayence, A. Bourne, 2015. The travelling workshop: ecological restoration in western South Africa and Western Australia. Ecological Management and Restoration 16: 86-94.

K.J. Forsythe, A. Amar, P.J. Carrick. Exploring relationships between species composition and ecosystem function: a global meta-analysis using data from intact and recovering ecosystems. Submitted to Journal of Ecology.

C.E. Mayence, P.J. Carrick, D. Van Beem, E. Broenland, K.W. Dixon. Seed dormancy status, soil type, and innovative protective shelters influence seedling emergence in a disturbed arid coastal setting, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Submitted to Austral Ecology.

N.N. Shiponeni, P.J. Carrick, N. Allsopp and M.T. Hoffman.  Influence of edaphic factors on the distribution of grass and succulent shrub vegetation at the ecotone betweenBushmanland arid grassland and Namaqualand shrublands in the Karoo. In preparation for submission to Journal of Arid Environments.

P.J. Carrick, 2014. Australia – still leaders, but the vanguard has been lost. Journal of Cleaner Production 84: 41.

E.N. Haimbili, P.J. Carrick, N. Shiponeni, 2014. Establishment of woody savanna species on various mined substrates: toward restoring self-sustaining plant communities at Navachab Gold Mine, Namibia. In: Mucina, L., Price, J.N. & Kalwij, J.M. (eds.), Biodiversity and vegetation: patterns, processes, conservation, p.105. Kwongan Foundation, Perth, Australia.

N.N. Shiponeni, P.J. Carrick, N. Allsopp and M.T. Hoffman, 2014.  Effects of root competition and soils on seedling establishment at the ecotone between an arid grassland and succulent shrubland in South Africa. Journal of Vegetation Science: 25: 402-410.

P.J. Carrick, K.J. Forsythe, 2013. New ecological understanding from old restoration sites: unifying concepts, relationships and thresholds among ecosystem processes. South African Journal of Botany 876: 144.Autorzy.

N.N. Shiponeni, N. Allsopp, P.J. Carrick and M.T. Hoffman, 2011. Competitive interactions between grass and succulent shrubs at the ecotone between an arid grassland and succulent shrubland in the KarooPlant Ecology: 212: 795-808.

M.T. Hoffman, P.J. Carrick, L. Gillson and A.G. West, 2008. Drought, climate change and vegetation response in the succulent karoo biome, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 105: 1-7.

G.O. Schreiner, E. Pienaar, J.D. van Eeden, M.T. Hoffman and P.J. Carrick, 2008. An ecological evaluation of rehabilitation interventions on phosphate mined land in the West Coast Fossil Park from 1996-2008. In (Eds A. Fourie, M. Tibbet, I. Weiersbye & P. Dye) Mine Closure 2008. Proceedings of the 3rd International Seminar on Mine Closure 2008: 799-808.

C-L. Lyons, M.D. Picker and P.J. Carrick, 2008. Community structure of soil invertebrates under differing restoration practices – alluvial diamond-mined sites in South Africa. In (Eds A. Fourie, M. Tibbet, I. Weiersbye & P. Dye) Mine Closure 2008. Proceedings of the 3rd International Seminar on Mine Closure 2008: 821-830.

J. McLean and P.J. Carrick, 2007: Environmental management and rehabilitation under the MPRDA: a biodiversity outlook. South African Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 14: 187-216.

M.S. Botha, P.J. Carrick, and N. Allsopp, 2008: Capturing lessons from land users to aid the development of ecological restoration guidelines for lowland Namaqualand. Biological Conservation 141: 885-895.

P.J. Carrick and R. Kruger, 2007. Restoring degraded landscapes in lowland Namaqualand: lessons from the mining experience and from regional ecological dynamicsJournal of Arid Environments 70:767-781.

B.D. Hahn, F.D. Richardson, M.T. Hoffman, R. Roberts, S.W. Todd, P.J. Carrick, 2005.  A simulation model of long-term climate, livestock and vegetation interactions on communal rangelands in the semi-arid Succulent Karoo, Namaqualand, South Africa.Ecological Modelling 183: 211-230.

P.J. Carrick 2004. The establishment ecology of two widespread Succulent Karoo plant species as a means of understanding change in rangelands. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 59: 39-40.

P.J. Carrick, 2003. Competitive and facilitative relationships among three shrubs, and the role of browsing intensity and rooting depth in the Succulent Karoo, South Africa. Journal of Vegetation Science 14: 761-772.

P.J. Carrick, 2003. Different landuse options produce a gradient of plant richness at a single location in Namaqualand: the pattern and the processes. In (Eds N. Allsopp, A.R. Palmer, S.J. Milton, K.P. Kirkman, G.I.H. Kerley, C.R. Hurt, C.J. Brown) Rangelands in the New Millennium. Proceedings of the 7th International Rangelands Congress: 177-187.

P.J. Carrick, 2001. Shrub community dynamics in a South African semi-desert. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 245 pp.

R.J. Anderson, P. Carrick, G.J. Levitt, A. Share, 1997. Holdfasts of adult kelp Ecklonia maxima provide refuges from grazing for recruitment of juvenile kelpsMarine Ecology Progress Series 159: 265-273.

S. Johnson, A. Ellis, P. Carrick, A Swift, S. Janse van Rensburg, N. Horner, W. Bond, 1993.Moth pollination and rhythms of advertisement and reward in Crassula fascicularis(Crassulaceae). South African Journal of Botany 59: 511-513.


Over 40 conference and seminar presentations

Over 80 professional and scientific reports

Dr. Peter Carrick’s Nurture Restore Innovate (NRI) uses extensive and ongoing ecological research, combined with entrepreneurial acumen and an understanding of socio-economic needs, to design and implement restorations systems that restore globally important biodiversity and generate livelihoods through the rehabilitation of degraded lands.

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