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South African Research Chair in Land Use Planning and Management Professor Onisimo Mutanga and Dr Adrian Nel of the Discipline of Geography at UKZN are among those who have been admitted to the Council of the Society of South African Geographers (SSAG) for a two-year term.
Mutanga was re-nominated to serve a second term on the Council while Nel joins five other new Council members from the Universities of the Free State, Pretoria, Mpumalanga, Cape Town and the North-West.
SSAG President Dr Richard Ballard of the Gauteng City-Region Observatory noted the body’s excitement at the injection of new people, capacities, ideas and energies.
Council members are responsible for various initiatives or activities, including editing the Society’s journal, arranging writing workshops, handling registrations with the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions, society and student awards, conferences, social media and newsletters. Ballard noted the scope within the Council to invent new initiatives based on members’ thoughts on how they can make a difference as a Council to SSAG as a whole.
The SSAG, which has existed in its present form since 1994 when the Society for Geography and the South African Geographical Society amalgamated, boasts a large membership working to advance the research and educational activities of all South African geographers.
Mutanga, who joined UKZN in 2005, served a term on the SSAG Council handling a portfolio which included involvement in planning conference proceedings. He features consistently in the University’s 30 Top Performing Researchers list, and is an expert in ecosystem pattern and condition analysis in the face of global and land-use change using remote sensing. He integrates ecology, biodiversity conservation and remote sensing to model the impact of anthropogenic and physical factors on the environment.
Nel, a senior lecturer in the Discipline of Geography at UKZN since 2015, focuses his research on political ecology, using the results to contribute to curriculum content at UKZN. He conducts research on land reform and livelihoods, crises conservation, the Green Economy, human-environment relations, development and conservation in eastern and southern Africa, migration, identity, indigeneity and belonging.
Words and photographs: Christine Cuénod