SARChI Chair University of Venda

The University of Venda based South African Research Chair in Biodiversity and Change in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve is a vibrant hub for biodiversity science, training and conservation application in the Southern African Development Community – a body of established and emerging researchers, postgraduate and postdoctoral candidates. The Research Chair, co-hosted by the Centre for Invasion Biology at the University of Stellenbosch, is funded by the Department of Science and Technology and administered by the National Research Foundation.

Spatial Biodiversity Assessment of the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve


The Department of Environmental Affairs are appointing consultants to undertake an Environmental Management Framework (EMF) for the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (Vhembe District and Blouberg Local Municipality) which will include an analysis of the current zonation (core conservation areas and buffer zones), suggest future conservation areas and publish land use guidelines.

The objective of the EMF is to guide development patterns around the biosphere reserve by assisting authorities to develop a management plan for the core and buffer areas, identifying thresholds that can be accommodated for certain development activities through the analysis and findings of the sensitivities within the geographical area.

The Research Chair has formed a working group of 18 biodiversity specialists (University of Venda and Limpopo Department of Economic Development Environment and Tourism) with the aim of refining the Limpopo Conservation Plan for the VBR area using specialist biodiversity spatial data. This will then be used to inform the EMF process. The Limpopo Conservation Plan is by far the most detailed model (MARXAN) available selecting critical biodiversity areas and ecological support areas, but is coarse and with incomplete biodiversity data sets.  Further, the Province is in the final stages of publishing a Limpopo Protected Areas Expansion Strategy which will be available soon.

Limpopo coservation plan VBR


  • Caswell Munyai Caswell Munyai
  • Irene Barnhoorn Irene Barnhoorn
  • Peter Taylor Peter Taylor
  • Steven Evans Steven Evans
  • Stefan Foord Stefan Foord
  • Colin Schoeman Colin Schoeman
  • Bibi Linden Bibi Linden
  • Ian Gaigher Ian Gaigher