The19th Annual Savanna Science Network Meeting (SSNM) had kicked off this morning, 7 March, in the Kruger National Park (KNP). During the annual event which will continue until 10 March, scientists, researchers and Protected Area managers from around the world would be hosted.
Delegates from 14 countries have sent 155 conservation experts, representing 60 different scientific and conservation organisations to the KNP. In keeping with smaller, new hybrid conferencing formats, the meeting will also be streamed live on YouTube from the Nombolo Mdluli Conference Centre in Skukuza. https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFAoSDuzEtcGtTyZGa5EXBE9cgEmy8VMz.
While some countries and institutions still have travel bans in place, the meeting will be slightly smaller than previous years but will still include 101 unique platform and 18 poster presentations.
Global ecological research already shows impact of Climate Change
The SSNM meeting had grown from one encouraging scientific networking and knowledge sharing with academic partners working on ecological research in the Park to being the premier international savanna science conference covering socio-ecological research taking place in savannas across the globe. The conference allows for dialogue and discussion on ecological science and conservation matters, both formally and informally shaping the collective understanding and seeding future research collaborations and projects to fill key knowledge gaps.
Many topical issues in ecological and social sciences will be covered during the week’s presentations and will include ecological themes such as studying ecological patterns (e.g. animal space-use patterns, large-scale biodiversity patterns), understanding ecological processes (e.g. erosion, predation, plant recruitment, herbivory, fire, disease, decomposition) and cultural heritage, tourism, social media, environmental management and policy, as well as the use technology such as artificial intelligence and drones in conservation.
The above issues reflect the incorporation of expertise from diverse fields of expertise to assist in attaining conservation goals. In order to provide a sound scientific platform from which to address the knowledge needs to manage biodiversity and protected areas in a changing world, SANPark scientists engage and collaborate with a wide range of national and international scientists, research partners and funders. Sharing basic and applied research, spanning the biophysical and social domains, strengthens research and monitoring efforts and capacity building.
According to Isaac Phaahla, communications manager for the Park, “The close interaction between academics and park authorities facilitated by this meeting are key drivers to promoting pro-active evidence-based decision-making, and directing research to address priority conservation management needs. The meeting has always valued capacity building and as such students share the platform with world-renowned savanna scientists from across the globe.”
Information on the SANParks Scientific Services can be found on https://www.sanparks.org/conservation/scientific_new/