Phone number: 
+27-046-603-7002

Location

Rhodes University 6140 Grahamstown , Eastern Cape
South Africa
Eastern Cape ZA
Postal address: 
P.O. Box 94 Grahamstown 6140
Working languages: 
English

We are a small department dedicated to advancing inter- and trans-disciplinary science and learning aimed at understanding and managing complex human-environmental/social-ecological systems, with a focus on Africa. 

We are interested in human-environment interactions and in the governance and sustainable management of complex social-ecological systems. We recognise that we are living in a globalising and rapidly changing world characterised by numerous interconnected environmental and social challenges. We undertake research on the ecological and socio-economic dimensions of these challenges, with the goal of contributing towards more resilient, equitable and sustainable pathways into the future. The nexus between human well-being, livelihoods, vulnerability, ecosystem services and change is central in all our work.  Key areas of research include:

  • Livelihoods, vulnerability and biodiversity
  • Ecosystem services and societal benefits
  • Non-timber forest products use, trade and management
  • Landscape change and land degradation
  • Co-management and governance of protected areas
  • Community based natural resource management
  • Social learning for change
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Urbanisation, urban greening and forestry
  • Ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration
  • Invasive plants – uses, impacts and management
  • Food security, especially in relation to ecosystem services provision and wild food

The Department of Environmental Science, Rhodes University Resources

Displaying 1 - 10 of 16
Policy Papers & Briefs
June 2017
South Africa

Local level, collective small-scale farming projects in the Kat River Valley, like elsewhere, have proven difficult to sustain.  Various factors from macro-level policies to local level social and political dynamics were found to hinder or block the success of such projects.  Some of the most challenging factors relate to history and path dependency, prevailing neoliberal agricultural policies and discourses, narrow markets, internal conflicts, lack of local capacity and unclear and insecure land tenure.

Reports & Research
March 2017
South Africa

Rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa are faced with multiple interconnected challenges such as population growth, environmental change, economic recession and climatic changes, amongst others. Such challenges can play a key role in determining vulnerability and food security, particularly for natural resource productdependent societies that have limited livelihood sources. Studies that consider understanding how society and ecosystems simultaneously interact and respond to new and exacerbated drivers are increasingly needed.

Reports & Research
March 2017
South Africa

Climate change poses a very real threat to millions of Africans, especially those who rely on the natural world for their livelihoods. The increasing variability of climate and rainfall patterns are said to have dire consequences on agricultural production which is the main livelihood activity of rural dwellers across the continent.

Policy Papers & Briefs
December 2016
Southern Africa

In recent years,proponents of 'green and clean fuel' have argued that the costs of overreliance on fossil fuels could be reduced through transition to biofuels such as bio-ethanol. Global biofuel discourses suggest that any transition to biofuel invariably results in significant benefits, including energy independence, job creation, development of agro-industrial centres at local level and high revenue generations for the state with minimum negative impacts on the environment.

Policy Papers & Briefs
December 2016
South Africa

Whilst most interpret food insecurity to mean an insufficient quantity of food (as measured by the number of calories consumed), the widely accepted FAO definition considers four dimensions of food security, namely quantity, quality or diversity, access and use. Provision of enough calories on a daily basis is not sufficient if the diet lacks diversity and appropriate balance to provide the full range of minerals and vitamins necessary for proper health,or if the food available is culturally unacceptable.

Policy Papers & Briefs
November 2015
South Africa

This policy brief draws on three sources of data from a study undertaken in Lesseyton in Lukanji Local Municipality and Willowvale in Mbashe Local Municipality, in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.The aim was to understand the vulnerability context of households in the two sites and how they coped with multiple shocks and stresses, with an emphasis on various types of safety nets. Methods included a survey that specifically targeted vulnerable households, data from several community workshops and in-depth life history interviews.

Peer-reviewed publication
October 2015
South Africa

This paper seeks to understand the drivers and pathways of local livelihood change and the prospects for transformation towards a more sustainable future. Data are used from several studies, and a participatory social learning process, which formed part of a larger project in two sites in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Secondary information from a wealth of related work is used to place our results within the historic context and more general trends in the country. Findings indicate that livelihoods in the rural Eastern Cape are on new trajectories.

Reports & Research
November 2014
South Africa

How can social grants be made to work better for households in rural Eastern Cape? Social grants have a positive impact on food security. Monthly food consumption expenditures increase when households receive grants. This study provides new insights by highlighting two key household characteristics, gender and education, in catalyzing or diminishing the effects of grants on household livelihood outcomes. Our analysis mainly focuses on impacts of pensions on household food security and labor supply of household members.

Policy Papers & Briefs
October 2014
South Africa

How do social, environmental and economic stressors interact to constrain people's ability to improve their livelihoods and respond to change and what does this mean for policies?

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