The program focuses on:

  • Ecology of Biomes (Karoo, Grassland and Savanna biomes)

  • Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology

  • Integrated vegetation Database and Plant Voucher Specimen Collection

These programs are spread over South Africa in the different biomes and concentrate on the ecological processes and the influence of climate and herbivores on the natural resource.

Rangeland Ecology, Forage and Management
Rangeland Management
Farming Systems
Forage Technology
Ruminant Nutrition

Short documentary on the Khuboes community's vulnerability to climate change

This short documentary highlights the methodology of a collaborative study by the Agricultural Research Council, SanParks and The Rockies Institute (Canada) on the vulnerability of the Khuboes community whose livelihoods are threatened by the impact of climate change. More than 100 head of households were interviewed by a team of five University of the Western Cape students and five trained community members from Khuboes. Crowd funding for the water harvesting project at the school was raised by The Rockies Institute. The study is still ongoing. If you are interested in more information regarding the results of the study please feel free to contact Dr. Igshaan Samuels (

Here is the link to the short documentary  The documentary was screened at the current COP Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland.


Rangelands vary from desert shrub to lush grassland, and provide the main fodder source for the national cattle and small-stock herds as well as for wildlife. The productivity of all the rangelands of South Africa has been deteriorating as a result of inter alia desertification, bush encroachment and the loss of palatable plant species. Should this deterioration be allowed to continue unchecked, sustainable animal and food production would not be possible in the long term. It is essential that ongoing research be undertaken to increase understanding of the driving forces that determines changes in vegetation. It is the mandate of the ARC-AP to promote the sustainable utilisation of our veld, pasture and livestock resources, by improving and increasing animal products (meat, dairy and fibre) without degradation of our natural resources and the loss of biodiversity.

RE2.pngSpecifically, we focus among others on:
  • assessing diet selection and resource partitioning amongst livestock in semi-arid rangelands

  • investigating and mapping livestock mobility patterns under variable socio-ecological conditions on the commons of Namaqualand in order to develop appropriate management options

  • Investigating impacts of livestock on different vegetation types and on key resource areas

  • The role of fire as a top-down driver of the dynamics and stability of montane mesic grassland.

  • The influence of intense, high density stocking on the composition, diversity and population structure of mesic grassland forbs (non-grasses)



Dr Igshaan Samuels


Tel: +27 (0) 21 959 3373