Associated Projects2019-03-12T10:27:57+02:00


All researchers engaged in SAPECS bring to the table one or more in-depth social-ecological case studies or projects. This page describes projects at a variety of scales in the southern African region led by the researchers engaged in SAPECS.

Click on the balloons or areas below for more information about the projects.

The consequences of global change for ecosystem service delivery in a biodiverse urban-park matrix

This research programme falls under a broad global environmental change and ecosystem services ACCESS-funded project. The project will set out to articulate the diversity of values, benefits and trade-offs derived from water-related ecosystem services in Table Mountain National Park by residents living in the City of Cape Town. The research aims to answer the following questions: 1) What are the cultural ecosystem service values and benefits derived from a national park by communities residing in a metropolitan setting?

POSTDOC OPPORTUNITY: Forecasting Climate Change Risks to Wild Food Plants

ACDI Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Forecasting Climate Change Risks to Wild Food Plants Application Deadline: 31 August 2020 or until position is filled Call for Applications A research team from the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) at the University of Cape Town is seeking a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (PDRF) to join a project forecasting climate change risks to wild food plants and the nutritional consequences for the communities that depend on them. The PDRF will be motivated to work as part of a diverse research team, engage with decision-makers in food systems and conservation, and generate peer-reviewed publications. Additionally, there is the opportunity to [...]

POSTDOC OPPORTUNITIES: Nature-based Solutions in Southern Africa’s Water Towers, ACDI, University of Cape Town

VACANCY 1: POST DOCTORAL RESEARCH FELLOW – SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CONSTRAINTS OF NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS (Closing Date: 31 January 2021) The African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) based at the University of Cape Town (UCT) wishes to appoint a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to support the social, economic and political research component of the TES-NbS (Towards Equitable and Sustainable Nature-based Solutions in Southern Africa’s Water Towers) project. The successful candidate will unpack the social, economic and political processes and trade-offs that shape which Nature-based Solutions are adopted and who benefits in the region. There will be a focus on landscape restoration [...]

JUNIOR RESEARCH FELLOW: Future Water Institute

Future Water was established in 2016 as a transdisciplinary research institute at the University of Cape Town. Its research contributes to new thinking, practices and solutions for sustainable water resource use, including attention to water scarcity, water sensitivity, treatment technologies, resource recovery, governance and social justice. The institute has been founded on the premise that future water solutions will arise through inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to research in which socio-economic and technical considerations are addressed jointly. To this end, Future Water, while hosted by the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, involves academics and researchers from the Faculties of [...]

Improving the governance and economics of protected areas

A key concern facing large protected areas and buffer zones in southern Africa is that they are locked in a vicious cycle of rural poverty and environmental degradation. Weak knowledge about the practicalities of micro-governance, devolution and economic policy, weak stakeholder learning systems and a major shortage of professionals with economic, governance and stakeholder skills are central to these challenges.

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: Masters bursaries for 2022

The Centre for Sustainability Transitions builds on a strong history of transdisciplinary research and complexity studies at Stellenbosch University, providing a vibrant hub for solution-oriented sustainability science that hosts leading scientists and students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds in a state-of-the-art research centre. The primary objective of the CST is to provide transformational knowledge on the dynamics of multi-scale social-ecological change, and strategic insights into the new modes of research and governance that can bring about a just transition to a more equitable and sustainable society, in southern Africa and globally.  We seek motivated individuals interested to pursue a Masters on the [...]

GRIN Meeting: 2nd Announcement and Call for Abstracts

The 4th Garden Route Interface and Networking (GRIN) Meeting will take place from 11-13 October 2022 (2 nights, 3 days) at Pine Lake Marina, Sedgefield, South Africa. A post-GRIN Spring School on social-ecological systems research will take place from 14-19 October 2022, in the Garden Route. GRIN provides a space for sharing experiences and latest insights related to the management, research and sustainability of social-ecological systems (e.g. protected areas, working landscapes, estuaries and catchments) from around the world. GRIN aims to be practitioner relevant and specifically cater for managers, rangers and policy makers to share their real-life stories / experiences [...]

Building resilient landscapes by linking social networks/capital to ecological infrastructure

This collaborative research project commenced in April 2013 and is funded by the Water Research Commission. The project aims to influence the way natural resource managers and policy makers think about, value and make decisions about ecological infrastructure. The case study area is the Touws River Catchment in the Garden Route and participatory action research will be used to promote meaningful change.

Post-doc position available with the SARChI Chair research group on “Interdisciplinary Science in Land and Natural Resource Use for Sustainable Livelihoods”

The SARChI Chair in Interdisciplinary Science in Land and Natural Resource Use for Sustainable Livelihoods in the department of Environmental Science at Rhodes University focuses on generating interdisciplinary understandings of natural biological resources and their roles in rural and urban livelihoods for poverty alleviation and human wellbeing. This includes the ecological, economic and social dimensions of land and biological resource use in both rural and urban systems. The activities of the Chair are currently led by Professor Charlie Shackleton. The Dept of Environmental Science is one of the smallest at Rhodes University, but is one of the most research intensive, with high [...]

NRF Grant-holder Masters bursary to work in the Tsitsa River catchment

I am looking for an MSc student who in interested in the interface between natural resource science and social science in land and water resource management. The bursary is for R90 000 per year for two years, starting as soon as possible. You will be working in a vibrant Water Governance Development research team that is part of the large DEA-NRM-funded Tsitsa Project ( The Governance Development research aims to support the emergence of participatory land and water governance in the Tsitsa River catchment. Your project would address the research question: How does an experience of research participation lead to [...]

Jonga phambili Sinethemba (moving forward with hope) – Vulnerability, coping and adaptation within the context of climate change and HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Investigating strategies to strengthen livelihoods and food security and build resilience

The project supported 12 related studies (mainly postgraduate research projects) that have helped to build a very intricate and detailed picture of livelihoods, vulnerability and change in the communal areas of the Eastern Cape in two different contexts. The research has been undertaken in two sites in the rural Eastern Cape, South Africa; Lesseyton outside of Queenstown and Gatyana near Willowvale. The peri-urban nature of Lesseyton and the more isolated rural setting of Gatyana have resulted in some interesting and important contrasts in the findings.

Governance of Ecosystem Services under Scenarios of Change

This research programme is a collaboration between the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa, and VU Amsterdam in The Netherlands. It currently consists of two complementary PhD projects that aim to explore social-ecological dynamics in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, integrating concepts such as ecosystem services, human well-being, sense of place, transformations and poverty alleviation.

Ecosystem services in the Upper Thukela

Several semi-interlinked projects are running in this region with ecosystem services as a common ground. Here are short descriptions about each project with links to the available project sites or contact persons. 1. Assessing the impacts of land degradation on soil functioning and associated ecosystem services and finding ways to rehabilitate the land (for crop and grazing), to foster carbon sequestration for mitigating effects of and adapting to climate change.

Conservation South Africa: Health and Conservation Coordinator

Conservation South Africa vacancy in Matatiele, Eastern Cape Conservation South Africa, as a local affiliate of Conservation International, is committed to helping societies adopt a more sustainable approach to development—one that considers and values nature at every turn and improves human well-being through the conservation of healthy ecosystems and the goods and services they provide.  Conservation South Africa seeks to influence policy, develop markets, engage the private sector, and support communities to develop and implement conservation- based economic growth models and long-term human well-being. This position will work closely with the Municipal Support Coordinator in the delivery of CSA’s municipal [...]

Call for applications: Two postdoc positions available at Rhodes University, South Africa

Post-doc positions available with the SARChI Chair research group on “Interdisciplinary Science in Land and Natural Resource Use for Sustainable Livelihoods” at Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa. The DSI/NRF SARChI Chair in “Interdisciplinary Science in Land and Natural Resource Use for Sustainable Livelihoods” in the Department of Environmental Science at Rhodes University focuses on generating interdisciplinary understandings of natural biological resources and their roles in rural and urban livelihoods for poverty alleviation, human wellbeing and resilience. This includes the ecological, economic and social dimensions of key species, land and ecosystem services use in both rural and urban social-ecological systems. The [...]

BURSARIES AVAILABLE: PhD bursaries available in the Dept of Environmental Science, Rhodes University, South Africa

The Department of Environmental Science at Rhodes University in Makhanda is a participant in an international, transdisciplinary research consortium investigating the ‘Challenges for Inclusive Urban Development in Africa (CHIDA)’. The project seeks to (1) capture and assess cumulative stresses and concurrent or cascading impacts that critically undermine urban livelihoods, (2) identify innovative, beneficial paths for Nature-based Solutions to support socially inclusive urban development, (3) provide insights for urban decision-makers and residents to plan desirable urban development paths, and (4) co-design an adaptive planning, decision-making and monitoring tool, particularly for urban green infrastructure and nature-based solutions. We have two PhD bursaries [...]

Resilience in the Olifants Basin (RESILIM-O)

RESILIM (Resilience in the Limpopo Basin) is a five year USAID-funded program running until the end of 2017, aiming to enhance resilience in catchment communities to climate and environmental change and to improve biodiversity outcomes, with a special emphasis on building capacity. An important focus within RESILIM is trans-boundary governance, in the broadest sense of the word ‘boundary’.

Water Resources Management in South Africa: Towards a New Paradigm

The “New Paradigm” project is a collaborative research programme of the above organisations which recognises and takes account of the inherent complexity of water related systems. This work is underpinned by the key concepts of complex socio-ecological systems (SES), trans-disciplinarity, resilience and strategic adaptive management. The project will be organised through research teams, case studies, specific eutrophication, microbial pollution, and resource protection focus areas, an integrated community-based response process, and a process of testing principles derived from project case studies in additional regions.

Vital Signs Africa

This is the prototype for an integrated monitoring system at regional scale, which combines observations of human well-being, ecosystem services and agriculture. Its long gestation, like PECS, traces back to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, where we wished we had high-resolution, co-located datasets for specific places in order to address issues of tradeoffs between various development activities, biodiversity and HWB.

Seeds of Good Anthropocenes: A southern African perspective

We are bombarded with negative visions of the future, which may inhibit our ability to move towards a positive future for the Earth and humanity. In this project we aim to solicit, explore, and develop a suite of alternative, plausible visions of “Good Anthropocenes” – positive visions of futures that are socially and ecologically desirable, just, and sustainable, specifically from a southern African perspective.

Project for Ecosystem Services (ProEcoServ): Strengthening the science-policy interface of biodiversity and ecosystem services

ProEcoServ aims to enhance the integration of ecological infrastructure and ecosystem services into national development planning and policy with the involvement of national and local stakeholders. It is a global project with an umbrella approach, under which four pilot countries with existing skills and programs in ecosystem assessment are developing site and policy-specific activities and tools for decision making within a joint programmatic framework.

Ecosystem Services in the Anthropocene: Anticipating and managing regime shifts

This project focuses on the risk of transgressing critical thresholds or tipping points in social‐ecological systems that could trigger catastrophic regime shifts– large, abrupt and potentially irreversible changes – with respect to critical ecosystem services such as crop production, fisheries, and climate regulation. Such shifts can have major implications for human economies, health and well‐being, especially for poorer, marginalized groups in society.

Complexity, Networks, and Spatial Resilience of Protected Areas

This research programme focuses on the concept of spatial resilience. This body of theory recognizes that spatial variation (e.g., context, gradients, connectivity, network membership, and spatial feedbacks) changes how complex systems adapt, maintain or return to a desired state, and ultimately persist. My students and I combine tools from complexity theory and other disciplines to explore the spatial resilience of social-ecological systems (SESs).


We seek motivated individuals interested to pursue a PhD linked to two projects, namely the Seeds of Good Anthropocenes initiative and the Social‐ecological regime shifts in the Anthropocene project. Applicants should have a keen interest in sustainability and sustainability transitions, an interest and ability to integrate across the social and natural sciences, and enjoy collaboration and working in teams. Interested individuals should have a strong academic track‐record, participate in the events and activities of the CST, and be interested in developing a career around topics such as social‐ecological systems, resilience and risk, complexity thinking, social innovation and sustainability transformations. For more information on the following PhD bursaries [...]

Call for applications: Masters fellowship

 Masters fellowship on quantifying Africa’s Biodiversity Intactness: 2020-2021  Deadline for applications: 25 November 2019  A key challenge of the 21st century is identifying sustainable development pathways for humanity that do not erode the ecological foundation on which human well-being depends. It is increasingly recognized that humans and ecosystems are linked in complex and dynamic ways, as intertwined elements of ‘social-ecological’ systems.  Africa is known for its iconic biodiversity on which people depend for essential services, such as food, water and clean air. The continent is also currently experiencing one the most rapid GDP growth rates of any region. The upcoming [...]

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