Applied Learning Department Update – Dec 2022

Diploma update: 

The diploma development team met to discuss the two beta test roll-outs and the lessons learned from them. A schedule for the final steps, mostly concerning external review and internal accreditation of modules , has been developed. A schedule for next year’s Training Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings and objectives will be sent out by Prof Alan Gardiner who heads up the Applied Learning department before closure of the College this year.  

Southern African Development Community (SADC) Research and Innovation in Natural Resource and Waste Management (RINaWa) project: 

 Dr Richard Fergusson attended the launch workshop in Johannesburg which substantially revised and clarified the work-plan and commitments of the various parties.  The SAWC’s deliverables are clear and achievable and will be delivered in 2023 and 2024. The budget share allocated to this work was increased and contracts should be signed by end by the end of the year. 

Investec Gravelotte Research project: 

The “Investec Gravelotte Rangeland Management Project” largely sponsored by Investec was proposed in 2021 and has been running for  close on 20 months now. The SAWC proposed a long-term study to track the effect of different types of cattle grazing management contrasting the results with those of neighbouring properties that continue to practice traditional selective rotational grazing for cattle or cattle and unmanaged wildlife.  

One of the exciting events that took place within the project were the visits to site from Mnisi community, in collaboration with the Conservation South Africa (CSA) Carbon Governance course and the planned grazing programme running in the Mnisi rangeland to the south of the SAWC campus.  The purpose of this visit was to show farmers how cattle can be managed to visibly and measurably transform degraded grazing lands and prevent bare ground, soil erosion and climate-negative farming practices.  Basic veld condition and water infiltration monitoring techniques were demonstrated

Student Exchange: 

The students from Regional Post-graduate Training School on Integrated Management of Tropical Forests and Lands (ERAIFT) Kinshasha passed their literacy and numeracy test and are now busy organising paperwork for the students to arrive early in 2023. These students are arriving to complete their Masters level studies and assist in our five longitudinal studies at the College. We hope in the future our partnership with ERAIFT will allow our students and staff to also visit their training institute in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Research Unit IT: 

We have had several departmental and external meetings with the likes of National Geographic, Geographic Information System Corporation (GISCorp) and Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) focusing on data management within the department but also considering the College as a whole. The IT plan for the department is in progress and being led by Karl Ferreira. 

Carbon Foot printing training: 

Dr Richard Fergusson attended a three-day Carbon Foot printing training session offered by the Sustainability Institute in Stellenbosch. This was very interesting and will help us make better, more responsible choices as a College in the future. 

Vulture Research Project: 

One of the longitudinal studies headed up by researcher, Peter Hamming, is the vulture research project. Although in the beginning stages, it will hopefully continue to progress forward in 2023 as negotiations and agreements are made with neighbouring reserves and properties where nesting sites are. The idea is to be able to monitor the  behaviour of these endangered birds including nesting, breeding and social dynamics.