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Post-doctoral fellow

Dr Glynis Humphrey

Research topic: The role of fire, climate, policy and land use change as key drivers of vegetation change in the Kalahari of north-east Namibia

Office: Room 5.04 HW Pearson Building
Telephone: +27 78 411 4236




Glynis’s main research interests are in fire history, ecology and people and the use of interdisciplinary research in addressing savanna-woodland fire management in southern Africa. Her PhD (2018), supervised by Associate Professor Lindsey Gillson, titled ‘The role of humans, climate and vegetation in the complex fire regimes of north-east Namibia’ focused on understanding the historical and present-day social-ecological determinants of fire in Bwabwata National Park. She used an integrated approach of historical data, and social surveys in combination with remote sensing and geographical information system (GIS) analyses to understand the fire regime dynamics in a savanna landscape over a period of 16 years (2000 – 2015).

Her current post-doctoral research builds upon her PhD thesis in Bwabwata National Park and investigates the extent of vegetation change over decadal - centennial time periods with the use of historical aerial photographs and Landsat imagery. This first phase of the project involves examining possible changes associated with a transition in fire management policy from suppression to early burning strategies in the park. The second component involves modelling past and future land use and fire management scenarios. This research is part of a wider multi-disciplinary project investigating long-term vegetation and fire dynamics that includes several other students using repeat photography and palaeo-ecological datasets in collaboration Associate Professor Lindsey Gillson and the University of Witwatersrand (WITS).

Glynis has a B.Sc. (Hons) in Environmental Science from Rhodes University, and an M.Sc in Conservation Biology from the Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town. Between her studies, she worked in the ecological field in South Africa, Peru, Botswana, Namibia, and Tanzania. Professional experiences include work as a conservation ecologist, field guiding in South Africa, wild-life research and monitoring, environmental consulting specializing in arid-zone ecological restoration and environmental assessments in Namibia. Her professional research interests are founded upon an established interest in understanding the complex interactions between people, conservation policies and ecology in savanna environments under the threat of global environmental change.

Key research interests:
People and biodiversity conservation in African developing countries, climate change, fire and savanna –woodland ecology; history, social-ecological interactions between climate, land use, people (indigenous groups, NGOs and Government); remote sensing; GIS; rural livelihood sustainability; conservation policies; interdisciplinary synthesis i.e. pyrogeography; modelling social-ecological-fire regime coupling scenarios; applied management, and science communication.



Liebenberg, L, //Ao, /A, Lombard, M, Shermer, M, Xhukwe, /U, Biesele, M, //XAO, D, Carruthers, P, Kxao, ≠O, Hansson, SO, Langwane, H(K), Elbroch, LM, /Ui, N, Keeping, D, Humphrey, G, Newman, G, G/aq’o, /U, Steventon, J, Kashe, N, Stevenson, R, Benadie, K, du Plessis, P, Minye, J, Kxunta, /U, Ludwig, B, Daqm, ≠O, Louw, M, Debe, D and Voysey, M. 2021. Tracking Science: An Alternative for Those Excluded by Citizen Science. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 6(1): 6, pp. 1–16. DOI:

Humphrey, G.J., Gillson, L & Ziervogel, G.  2020. How changing fire management policies affect fire seasonality and livelihoods. Ambio. Vol.49 (8). DOI:

Gillson, L., C. Whitlock & G. Humphrey. 2019. Resilience and fire management in the Anthropocene. Ecology and Society. 24(3):14. DOI:

Moore, A., Flügel, T., Hutton-Squire, T., Hutton-Squire, M., Humphrey, G. 2016. Size distribution of Baobabs on Kubu “Island”, Sowa Pan (northern Botswana): an indicator of late-stage evolution of the Makgadikgadi palaeo-lake and climate change? South African Journal of Geology 119:3, 535-544.

Humphrey, G.J. & Sarrafek, L.  2013. ‘Evidence of Yellow-Billed Kites (Milvus aegyptius) fishing during the Barble run’ in the pan-handle of the Okavango River, Botswana: Ornithological Observations. Vol 4: 27 -30.

Child, M.F., Milton, S.J., Dean, W. R. J., Lipsey, M. K., Puttick, J., Hempson, T. N., Mann, G. K., Babiker, H., Chaudrey, J., Humphrey, G., Joseph, G., Okes, N. C., Potts, R. and Wistebaar, T. 2010. Tree-grass coexistence in a flood-disturbed, semi-arid savanna system. Landscape Ecology 25(2):315-326.


Relevant conference, symposia and workshop presentations:  

Humphrey G.J., Eastment, C., Gillson, L. & Hoffman, M.T. 2019. Inter-decadal vegetation change estimates in the savanna-woodlands of north-east Namibia using repeat photography and remotely sensed imagery (1996 – 2019). Virtual Research Day 2020. Poster session. Faculty of Science. University of Cape Town. 27th November 2020.

Humphrey G. Social-ecological fire dynamics in the Kalahari in the context of Bwabwata National Park, north-east Namibia (19th – 21st century). 27th August 2020. Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, Stellenbosch University. 

Humphrey G. ‘The role of community fire knowledge in Bwabwata National Park, north-east Namibia’. Fire Management Workshop in Madagascar: 19th – 27th July 2019. Antananarivo, Madagascar.  

Humphrey G. Connecting Savanna-woodland Societies across diverse fire knowledge & governance scales in north-east Namibia, 11th Annual Science Postgraduate Symposium, University of Cape Town, 11th September 2018.

Humphrey, G.J. & Gillson, L. Anthropogenic influence on fire regimes in North-east Namibia. Kruger National Park (KNP) Savanna Science Network meeting. 12 - 17th March 2017, South Africa.

Humphrey, G.J. The role of indigenous fire knowledge in Bwabwata National Park, north-east Namibia. Research presented at Fire Management Workshop and Strategy Development. 28- 29 November 2016. Windhoek. Namibia.  


Popular articles:

Humphrey, G.J. & Liebenberg, L. Tracking science: a way to include more people in producing knowledge. The Conversation Africa. 4th May 2021.

Humphrey.G.J., Gillson, L. & Ziervogel, G.  Trusting local knowledge: the case of fire management in a Namibian park. Conversation Africa. 10th September 2020.

Humphrey, G.J. Lens on Fire: Bwabwata National Park. Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) Namibian Chapter. Autumn Newsletter No. 8. 2016.