Friday, February 27, 2015


THEME: Natural Resource Research: Implication for management and conservation

Dates:             17th – 19th March 2015

Venue:            Botswana Wildlife Training Institute, Maun, Botswana.

Natural resources research should inform action, conservation and management, and as such studies should seek to produce knowledge that is applicable outside of the research setting, with implications for policy and project implementation. Botswana is a large country with low human population densities. Extensive wilderness areas support high densities of natural resources, and Botswana is one of the last refuges of species requiring open range. As a result Botswana still remains a stronghold for some of the world’s globally threatened species, such as the African elephant, wild dog and others. While the distribution of natural resources in Botswana is fairly well documented, there are still knowledge gaps in their management and conservation status, including threats and challenges. It is therefore important for research and planning, in Botswana and other countries with similar conditions, to draw attention to the importance. and the sustainable use, of natural resources.  The symposium aims at improving our understanding of natural resources dynamics by exploring all facets of variability and change in ecosystems as well as their management and conservation around the world. Furthermore, the Symposium will review existing knowledge and present the most recent research findings on ecosystem dynamics and management options.
The general objective of the Symposium is to provide an open forum for the exchange of views among natural resources professionals, academics and practitioners regarding the implication of research findings on management and conservation of natural resources.

Specific objectives are:

·         To understand flora and fauna responses to the dynamics and heterogeneity of biogeochemical processes and primary production.

·         To determine appropriate management and conservation regimes of natural resources for sustainable utilisation.

·         To assess the economic and ecological value of natural resources to inform policy and planning.

·         To assess the linkages between the dynamics of ecosystem services and human well-being

·         To examine how human activities (e.g. mining, agriculture, water diversion/ abstraction) affect ecosystem processes and functions.

·         To explore how research findings can effectively influence management and conservation of natural resources

Papers are invited on the sub-themes outlined and others falling within the scope of the Conference.

Sub-theme 1: Ecosystem Dynamics

Ecological processes occur at landscape scale and it is increasingly apparent that these processes determine the health and status of the landscapes and their dependant wildlife populations.  The resulting mosaic of high and low herbivore densities and the associated seasonal movements shape the carnivore guild. Here the focus is on the vegetation and wildlife ecology of wetlands, including material and energy flows, productive functions, interactions and variation. Within this sub-theme, then, we are looking for contributions which deal with ecological processes from succession in plant communities through to migrations of animals and birds. This sub-theme includes a variety of topics including: Wetlands Hydrology, Biogeochemical cycling, vegetation and wildlife ecology, and Energy flow and how these processes and functions are affected by climate change.

Sub-them 2: Managing Ecosystems

This theme addresses issues and debates related to management of natural resources which are generally characterized by diverse exploitation gears, have various (and sometimes competing) uses, and diverse species assemblages in a highly variable environment. One of the key questions facing these is to determine the most appropriate management regime of natural resources in order to derive maximum benefits from them.  The theme will include topics such as Trans Frontier conservation, Managing natural resources, Governance of natural resources, Monitoring of natural resources, evaluation of management practices (e.g. translocation, compensations, fire, waterholes)

Sub-theme 3: People and Ecosystems

Ecosystem services (ESS) are defined by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment as the benefits obtained by people from ecosystems. These services are categorized into four main types of provisioning, cultural, regulating, and supporting services. As a result of human activities, wetlands ESS are being depleted at an alarming rate, worldwide. Changes in ESS adversely affect human well-being through reduced supply of the basic needs. The adverse impacts on ESS tend to affect the poor more than the rich as they are more vulnerable. In sub-Saharan Africa, the well-being of the poor is adversely affected by the depletion of provisioning services as they are more dependent on them for their survival. The depletion of regulating and supporting services may also increase the transmission of diseases. This sub-theme will therefore address the linkages between the dynamics of ESS and well-being in wetland areas. The subtheme will include topics like ecosystem services and human well-being, economic values of ecosystem services, Community Based Natural Resources management (CBNRM), sustainable Tourism, human Wildlife Interactions and anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems.
Sub-theme 4: Game Ranching: A conservation tool or threat?

Game farming grew to a multi-million rand industry in South Africa. In the process large tracts of land converted from livestock to wildlife. It provides potential for conservation but at the same time pose conservation challenges as well. A key question is what lessons did South Africa learn that can benefit Botswana?  In this sub-theme we are looking at contributions to elucidate both sides of the coin. From a genetic viewpoint the challenge ranges from inbreeding of small populations to mixing of gene pools and interbreeding of species (e.g. black wildebeest and blue wildebeest). Topics include: the challenges to manage wildlife populations on game farms, contribution to endangered species conservations, Conservation risks, genetics, and distribution of species beyond their ecological range, balancing economic and ecological costs and benefits, role of game ranching to tourism

In addition to the sub-themes above there will be five round table discussions on selected critical management issues and one special event.

Round table discussion topics

1.      Game ranching

2.      Human wildlife Co-existence

3.      Translocation

4.      Okavango Delta as a world heritage site – Implication for management and conservation

Special event

1.      Launch of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Research Strategy

Conference outputs

The conference will produce the following outputs

1.        A book of abstracts

2.        A published conference proceedings through a peer reviewed process available to the international community

3.        A policy brief summarizing key research-based recommendations for policy and decision-making for addressing key natural resource management issues and related challenges

4.        A journal special issue on Natural Resources Research: Implication for management and conservation

For more details Contact:

Ms. Chimbi Leutlwetse

Okavango Research Institute

P/bag 285


Tel: +267 6817275/7220


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