The LaRSSA conference aims to bring together key industry, governmental and academic land practitioners, all of whom have valuable insight into and contributions to make to the land rehabilitation discipline in Southern Africa.
The LaRSSA 7th Annual Conference will be held at Glenburn Lodge, Muldersdrift. Located in the Kromdraai Valley and on the Crocodile River, Muldersdrift forms part of the Crocodile Ramble, a scenic tourist route generally regarded as the most popular of all the craft routes around South Africa. It is the gateway to the West Rand, and forms part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
The pre-conference workshop will focus on "Soil Science Principles for the Rehabilitation of Degraded Land" and will be facilitated by Jaco Koch (North West University), Piet van Deventer, Dries Bloem (Geolab) and Johan Hattingh.
The two days of conference proceedings will include renowned keynote and plenary speakers, as well as industry leaders on pertinent topics. These include Johan Zietsman, Lucy Koelslag, Mike Bruton and Junior Gabela (more to be confirmed). It will also be packed with presentations of case-studies and/or research projects focusing on our theme.
The two post-conference tours will feature a trip to Rustenburg to the Kgaswane Mountain Reserve (Working for Wetlands) and the Rustenburg Kloof project (Working for Water). The second post-conference tour will be hosted by The Harties Foundation, a non-profit company, that is addressing the water hyacinth infestation at the Hartebeespoortdam by not only cleaning up the dam, but also creating jobs. This tour will include a ride on the magnificent Harties cableway.
Sphamandla Junior Gabela is a well respected and highly accomplished bird guide operating in the Zululand region of South Africa. His passion and love of birds and nature were sparked at a young age as he explored the area around the Amatigulu Nature Reserve where he grew up in a small, rural village. He joined BirdLife South Africa in 2006 and was trained as part of the community guide development programme. He assists with estuarine and coastal forest species research programmes. Sphamandla is also passionate about educating KwaZulu-Natal's youth and worked with Wessa as an environmental educator from 2010-2015. His goal is to carry the conservation message to rural and disadvantaged communities and to empower them through birding and conservation.
Mike Bruton was born and educated in East London, where he met the inventor of the dolos, Eric Merrifield, as a child. Although he obtained his MSc and PhD in ichthyology at Rhodes University, and pursued a career as an ichthyologist and science administrator, he has retained a strong interest in innovation throughout his life. While he was director of a large research institute in Grahamstown (Makhanda) he realized that he needed to create an environment that was inducive to creativity and innovation, as great scientists are not faithful formalists who make incremental contributions but disruptors who question and upset the status quo. Later, after he had launched the MTN ScienCentre in Cape Town, he created an exhibition on 'Great South African Inventions', which travelled throughout South Africa and also visited Japan. His ongoing research on innovation has culminated in the publication of a book, 'What a Great Idea! Awesome South African Inventions'. Mike is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and has, inter alia, been awarded the Captain Scott Medal by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academique by the Government of France, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Science & Technology Forum. In 2012 he received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater for his contributions to science and science education.
With a Horticultural background, and a passion for the environment and people it was just fitting to be part of the Hartbeespoort Rehabilitation steering committee and Harties Foundation NPC. A community driven initiative that not only stops an environmental disaster, but also has the vision to create jobs, protect investments and ultimately protect the interests of all those living in and on the dam as well as those residing around the dam. It is exciting to see a negative situation, such as Hyacinths infestation turn into opportunity, for people to explore ways and means to not only overcome the challenge but to leave a lasting and sustainable impact.
Johann Zietsman, is a renowned grazier and livestock breeder from Zimbabwe. He studied livestock under noted livestock researcher and author Jan Bonsma in Pretoria, South Africa, and is a Holistic Management practitioner mentioned in Alan Savory's book Holistic Management. He is acknowledged by Mr. Savory as the first person to use Ultra High Stock Density. His practical knowledge of both grazing and livestock is very unique.
Professor Dube is Regional Representative for Southern Africa of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). He joined ILRI in November 2014 from the Agriculture Research Council in South Africa where he was research team manager, Rangelands Management and Forage Program. His research, student supervision and policy inputs focus on rangelands ecology and gender, the dialogue between science, resources users and policy formulators, development of decision support tools and mapping of resources. He is a Trustee, member and former President of the Grassland Society of Southern Africa. He has a PhD in rangeland ecology and management from Texas A&M University.
Professor Roy Lubke is a botanist come plant ecologist with an interest in restoration ecology and coastal and dune systems. He is a founding director of Coastal & Environmental Services and Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Botany Rhodes University. He has been involved in restoration ecological projects in many parts of Africa and Madagascar. In recent years he has spent more time on his Grahamstown small holding, Waterloo Farm, and with his family, animals and outdoor wildlife events.