SCGIS 2013 Scholarship Program

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Here you will find information about our 2013 scholars. This group is selected by our chapters in 10 countries and regions around the world. We encourage all SCGIS members to find candidates doing work or needing help relevant to what you do, and to reach out and contact them, introduce yourself, see how you can help them. Those wishing to donate can do so at the official SCGIS site. Scholars Page 1 . Scholars Page 2

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dMs Fahiema Daniels
email address(es): f.daniels@sanbi.org.za
title or role in the organization: Senior biodiversity planner
interest keywords (please see instructions): agriculture, analysis, aquatic, biodiversity, birds, botany, climate, climate change, coast, conservation, core-corridor, critical sites, data center, data source, ecology, forest, GAP analysis, landscape analysis, marine, modeling, monitoring, planning policy, remote sensing, river, species, statistics, vegetation, water,
Organization name: South African National Biodiversity Institute
*-Organization full street address (in your local format): Kirstenbosch gardens, Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town. 7700.
*-Organization full mailing address, if different: Private bag x7, Claremont, 7735
*-Country: South Africa
*-Work phone with country and area code:+27217998854
*-Work fax with country and area code:
*-Main email:f.daniels@sanbi.org.za
*-Organization Web site URL if any: www.sanbi.org

 

MAP GALLERY (Click on any map at right)
Threatened Ecosystems of South Africa (Click here for larger map)

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Custom Map Application (new window)d

 

describe the work that your current organization does: I work for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (www.sanbi.org). We are a parastatal organization, with some of our funding coming from the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and the rest from funds we get from project money. We are mandated to lead and coordinate research, and monitor and report on the state of biodiversity in South Africa. SANBI is unique in that it forms a host of functions, we have established botanical gardens spread throughout the country and are responsible for the management of these. Our gardens aid in showcasing biodiversity to the general public, and have educational programmes for schools and people in the communities surrounding each garden. We also have a strong research focus in biosystematics and collections, applied biodiversity research, climate change and bio-adaptation, and biodiversity planning and policy advice. Our work ranges from work at grass roots level with our municipal programmes working with local people; our municipal programme supports local and district municipalities with biodiversity information and tools in order to plan better. We are also able to take key research and use it to inform policy work and we can drive research within the institution to address serious policy gaps.
SANBI not only works within the biodiversity sector, we are working with industry in order to mainstream biodiversity and learn from other sectors. We have a working relationship with the department of agriculture, department of water affairs, we are currently in the process of drawing up biodiversity and mining guidelines, we also work with the housing development agency to support them with biodiversity information and guide them on environmentally sensitive areas where housing needs to be avoided and guide them on where to ideally locate houses for a growing nation. In addition to our national work, we are signatories to CITES and the CBD and SANBI is involved in commenting on document and producing reports for the CBD. SANBI staff members are also part of the CITES, IUCN and TRAFFIC scientific authority.


describe your personal role in the organization: I initially joined SANBI in 2005 working in the threatened species programme, I then went on the pursue my MSc in conservation biology in 2006 and worked on a SANBI project using GIS to identify dthreatened ecosystems based on threatened species associations. Since then, I worked on developing maps for all South Africa’s threatened ecosystems. I have done spatial analysis investigating how many threatened species are conserved inside and outside of protected areas for our CBD reports. I have worked on a project looking at conservation genetics of a threatened Protea with disjunct distributions on a highly fragmented landscape.
Since I rejoined SANBI after my MSc, in 2007, I feel like my biggest contributions have been in the listing of threatened terrestrial ecosystems and my work on the National Biodiversity Assessment 2011. My MSc work identified threatened ecosystems based on threatened species associations. I did some exploratory work on listing threatened ecosystems, and was instrumental in getting all the maps for each of the 220+ ecosystems into the working document. I also prepared the GIS data for serving it to the public, once the list was gazette and had legal implications through the Environmental impact Assessment process in South Africa.
For the National biodiversity assessment (NBA) I was tasked with doing an evaluation of where threatened s species are concentrated in South Africa, for reptiles, butterflies, birds and plants. I also had to assess the protection level of all South Africa’s vegetation types, by evaluating how well each vegetation type is represented in our protected area network. I did an analysis of how where the increase in protection has happened for our terrestrial environment since the last national spatial biodiversity assessment in 2004. I was also tasked with creating the very first point locality map of medicinal plants for South Africa. In addition, I had to write and edit the terrestrial component report and create numerous maps for the NBA 2011’s summary report, its terrestrial component and one ma for the freshwater component. I am also responsible for creating the text for the page, blurbs and metadata that will be served with this data.


describe the history of your personal work in conservation and GIS: I started using GIS for conservation while I was doing my MSc in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town. My thesis would help to address one of the key requirements of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act of South Africa, the listing of threatened ecosystems. My mini thesis was used to identify gaps in identifying threatened ecosystems using habitat loss data only. My study area was the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa. This work allowed the more stringent environmental management regulations to be applied to the seven additional ecosystems I identified.
I have been involved in a project where we are trying to set up a monitoring of biodiversity loss using historic data and trying to see if we can interpret trends from these data sets. This is one project that I would like to revisit and redo, once I have better remote sensing and GIS skills as I feel it’s important for biodiversity loss monitoring. I have also worked on threatened species listing projects as well as a population genetics study of a charismatic silver tree (Leucadendron argenteum) in the Cape Region of South Africa to try and understand its conservation needs.
Once again, by far, I feel my biggest contribution to conservation in South Africa through the use of GIS has been for the work I did on the National Biodiversity Assessment because this one of the most used biodiversity resources in south Africa and the terrestrial component (for which I did most of the technical work) gets used more than most of the other components.

describe what is the most unique and the most challenging about the conservation/GIS work that you do: I am fortunate enough to be working in a country with three biodiversity hotspots and there is so much more to be excited about. I am currently enjoying working on a municipal summaries project, where we summarize all the biodiversity information for each municipality and give them the data, and it will be available on our website for download. They can then use this information as a base layer in their 5 year integrated development plans, this tool makes it easier for their development applications in future, as we can avoid “critical biodiversity areas” being earmarked for development, and better outcomes for biodiversity conservation.
Similarly, I am working with the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, to create an area wide plan for areas where farmers can see what parts of their lands will trigger different legislative activities. This will help farmers know where on their land will be easier to develop and where wont. I think this is so much better than the old system, where there is illegal development and farmers plead ignorance or get fined.
One of the biggest challenges for me in the GIS work that I do is that there is little room for growth in GIS because our institution uses spatial products in so much of the policy work that we do, so there is always a lot of work for us to do, but we don’t have someone to learn from. I am the most experienced GIS person at SANBI and am therefore embarking on a PhD this year so that I can gain additional GIS skills through project work and working with a university supervisor as we don’t have the capacity within SANBI.

 


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