PhD student

James Puttick

Thesis topic:The extent, rate and drivers of change across grassland, savanna and forest boundaries in eastern South Africa over the last century

Supervisors: Prof M.T. Hoffman and Dr T O'Connor
Collaborating Institution: South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Office: Room 5.03, HW Pearson Building
Telephone: +27 21 650 2483


James started a career in conservation when he obtained a diploma in nature conservation from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology after leaving school.  He spent a year in the Kruger National Park as part of his training and remained there a year after as a trail guide taking visitors on guided walks. He left KNP to go travelling and on his return worked as a guide in Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve and the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. Thereafter, he obtained a B.Tech in nature conservation while managing a private nature reserve in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.  He subsequently obtained a BSc Honours in Zoology and MSc in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town. 

He is currently busy with a PhD examining the patterns and drivers of vegetation change in the savannas and grasslands of the mesic eastern region of South Africa over the last century. Apart from a love of the natural environment, his other passion in life is photography (see some of his photos on his website).

Peer reviewed publications:

O'Connor TG, Puttick JR & Hoffman MT. 2014. Bush encroachment in southern Africa: changes and causes. African Journal of Range and Forage Science 31 (2): 67-88.

Puttick JR, Hoffman MT & Gambiza J. 2014. The impact of land use on woody plant cover and species composition on the Grahamstown municipal commonage: implications for South Africa's land reform programme. African Journal of Range and Forage Science 31 (2): 123-133.

Puttick JR, Hoffman MT & Gambiza J. 2014. The influence of South Africa's post-apartheid land reform policies on bush encroachment and range condition: a case study of Fort Beaufort municipal commonage. African Journal of Range and Forage Science 31 (2): 135-145.

Puttick JR, Hoffman MT & Gambiza J. 2011. Historical and recent land-use impacts on the vegetation of Bathurst, a municipal commonage in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.  African Journal of Range and Forage Science 28 (1): 9-20.

Child MF, Milton SJ, Dean RWJ, Lipsey MK, Puttick JR, Hempson TN, Mann GK, Babiker H, Chaudrey J, Humphrey G, Joseph G, Okes NC, Potts R & Wistebaar T. 2010. Tree-grass coexistence in a flood-disturbed, semi-arid savanna system. Landscape Ecology 25 (2): 315-326.