Vanessa's PhD focuses on understanding aspects of stewardship of ecosystem services (such as local knowledge, institutions and bio-cultural diversity) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Land-use planning in the Eastern Cape during the Apartheid era marginalized poor rural communities into "homelands" which today still have limited capacity to cope with changing conditions, including climate change.
The project will assess the role of stewardship and social-ecological feedbacks in building resilience of the social-ecological system and identify potential trade-offs between resilience and transformation in this context.
Her PhD is part of a larger SIDA funded project, Governance of Ecosystem Services under scenarios of change in Southern and Eastern Africa, that brings together collaborators from the CSIR (South Africa) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Sweden), amongst others.
During her BSc Honours in Ecology and Geography at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, Vanessa investigated resource use patterns in the former homeland areas of the Mpumalanga Province.
She has gained experience in strategic environmental assessment in the environmental consulting industry in South Africa and has also enjoyed teaching undergraduate courses in Conservation Biogeography.