Harry Biggs's research while affiliated with Rhodes University and other places

Publications (82)

Article
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Innovative, pragmatic approaches are needed to support sustainable livelihoods and landscape management in complex social-ecological systems (CSES) such as river catchments. In the Tsitsa River Catchment, South Africa, researchers and natural resource managers have come together to apply such innovative approaches. Since CSES are characterised by u...
Article
Adaptive management (AM) and evidence-based conservation (EBC) have emerged as major decision-making frameworks for conservation management. AM deals with complexity and the importance of local context in making conservation decisions under conditions of high variability, uncertainty, and rapid environmental and social change. EBC seeks for general...
Article
There is growing appreciation that protected areas, like all social-ecological systems (SES), are inherently complex and face an unpredictable future under the influence of global environmental change. Adaptive management is the accepted approach for managing complex SES to ensure their resilience, but unless it is supported by a governance system...
Technical Report
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The purpose of this document is to develop an initial research investment strategy for the Tsitsa sub-catchment of the Mzimvubu catchment in the Maclear area of the Eastern Cape. The impetus was provided by plans to construct the tenth largest dam in South Africa, Ntabelanga Dam in the ~20 000 km2 catchment, situated in a high relief landscape with...
Article
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Protected areas (PAs) remain central to the conservation of biodiversity. Classical PAs were conceived as areas that would be set aside to maintain a natural state with minimal human influence. However, global environmental change and growing cross-scale anthropogenic influences mean that PAs can no longer be thought of as ecological islands that f...
Article
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Protected areas (PAs) remain central to the conservation of biodiversity. Classical PAs were conceived as areas that would be set aside to maintain a natural state with minimal human influence. However, global environmental change and growing cross-scale anthropogenic influences mean that PAs can no longer be thought of as ecological islands that f...
Article
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Natural resource management is embedded within social-ecological environments and requires decisions to be taken within this broad context, including those that pertain to protected areas. This realization has led to South African National Parks adopting a strategic adaptive management approach to decision making. Through narrative, we show why and...
Article
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We aimed to contribute to the field of natural resource management (NRM) by introducing an alternative systemic context-based framework for planning, research, and decision making, which we expressed practically in the development of a decision-making "tool" or method. This holistic framework was developed in the process of studying a specific catc...
Article
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This paper contends that natural resource management (NRM) issues are, by their very nature, complex and that both scientists and managers in this broad field will benefit from a theoretical understanding of complex systems. It starts off by presenting the core features of a view of complexity that not only deals with the limits to our understandin...
Article
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2013. Fostering complexity thinking in action research for change in social–ecological systems. Ecology and Society 18(2): 31. ABSTRACT. Complexity thinking is increasingly being embraced by a wide range of academics and professionals as imperative for dealing with today's pressing social–ecological challenges. In this context, action researchers p...
Article
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Athough the broad concept of mental models is gaining currency as a way to explore the link between how people think and interact with their world, this concept is limited by a theoretical and practical understanding of how it can be applied in the study of human-environment relationships. Tools and processes are needed to be able to elicit and ana...
Article
Aims The long-term effects of changing fire regimes on the herbaceous component of savannas are poorly understood but essential for understanding savanna dynamics. We present results from one of the longest running (>44 years) fire experiments in savannas, the experimental burn plots (EBPs), which is located in the Kruger National Park (South Afric...
Article
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Adaptive management is the problem-solving approach of choice proposed for complex and multistakeholder environments, which are, at best, only partly predictable. We discuss the implications of this approach as applicable to scientists, who have to overcome certain entrained behaviour patterns in order to participate effectively in an adaptive mana...
Article
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Equitable redistribution of resources is an emergent phenomenon in democratizing countries, and attempts are often characterized by decentralized decision making within a framework of multistakeholder negotiations. South Africa offers a unique opportunity to explore the manifestations of these relationships, particularly through Integrated Water Re...
Article
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How assessment and reflection relate to more effective learning in adaptive management', Koedoe 53(2), Art. #1001, 13 pages. doi:10.4102/koedoe. v53i2.1001 Assessment (an immediate evaluation of significance or performance) and reflection (a lengthy, deep consideration) should be important components of adaptive management leading to learning. In t...
Article
Full-text available
Adaptive management is the problem-solving approach of choice proposed for complex and multistakeholder environments, which are, at best, only partly predictable. We discuss the implications of this approach as applicable to scientists, who have to overcome certain entrained behaviour patterns in order to participate effectively in an adaptive mana...
Article
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Assessment (an immediate evaluation of significance or performance) and reflection (a lengthy, deep consideration) should be important components of adaptive management leading to learning. In this paper we use a prototype adaptive cycle and feedback framework, which are related to some aspects of learning theory, to examine the extent to which ass...
Article
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Protected areas such as the Kruger National Park (KNP) face many management challenges, of which ensuring a healthy flow of rivers into the park is one of the most important. Although previous management policies isolated the KNP from its neighbours, this position has changed as the KNP seeks to negotiate a respected ‘place’ for water and conservat...
Article
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This article argues that systematic conservation planning (SCP) is an intrinsic part of the adaptive management approach within SANParks and should not be seen as a separate or different initiative. SCP operates within a complex environment that requires a deliberately adaptive approach. The similarities in philosophy, structure and functional elem...
Article
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The concept of thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) as implemented for the last decade in strategic adaptive management in South African National Parks (SANParks), has proved workable in practice in a number of instances, but in others appears beset by conceptual and practical limitations or barriers. Three common challenges relate to (1) situati...
Article
This paper uses five inter-related topics (the management of rivers, fire regimes, invasive alien species, rare antelope and elephants) to assess 15 years of adaptive management in the Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa. The importance of adaptive planning (a process for developing achievable objectives, which is adaptive because objectives a...
Article
Aquatic ecosystems are connected over large spatial scales, have varied drivers, strong and often conflicting societal interests and interacting management processes. Many of the world’s protected areas (>100,000, ∼12% of land) include freshwater ecosystems, some specifically declared for freshwater protection, but often supplied by rivers outside...
Article
This article argues that systematic conservation planning (SCP) is an intrinsic part of the adaptive management approach within SANParks and should not be seen as a separate or different initiative. SCP operates within a complex environment that requires a deliberately adaptive approach. The similarities in philosophy, structure and functional elem...
Article
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Review of Environmental Risk Management in South Africa
Article
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Decision makers responsible for natural resource management often complain that science delivers fragmented information that is not useful at the scale of implementation. We offer a way of negotiating complex problems by putting forward a requisite simplicity. A requisite simplicity attempts to discard some detail, while retaining conceptual clarit...
Article
The concept of thresholds of potential concern (TPCs) as implemented for the last decade in strategic adaptive management in South African National Parks (SANParks), has proved workable in practice in a number of instances, but in others appears beset by conceptual and practical limitations or barriers. Three common challenges relate to (1) situati...
Article
Protected areas such as the Kruger National Park (KNP) face many management challenges, of which ensuring a healthy flow of rivers into the park is one of the most important. Although previous management policies isolated the KNP from its neighbours, this position has changed as the KNP seeks to negotiate a respected 'place' for water and conservat...
Article
In this ‘perspectives’ article, we share experiences gained from the century-old Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa to illustrate the dynamic complexity of biophysical and socio-political systems, the interactions that occur between them, and the consequences for ecosystem-scale functions and resources and for their management. As in KNP, t...
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This review article describes vectors for nitrogen and phosphorus delivery to riparian zones in semiarid African savannas, the processing of nutrients in the riparian zone and the effect of disturbance on these processes. Semiarid savannas exhibit sharp seasonality, complex hillslope hydrology and high spatial heterogeneity, all of which ultimately...
Article
The present paper reviews a long- term fire experiment in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, established in 1954 to support fire management. The paper's goals are: (1) to assess learning, with a focus on relevance for fire management; (2) to examine how findings influenced changes in fire management; and (3) to reflect on the experiment's futu...
Article
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"Sustainable ecosystem management relies on a diverse and multi-faceted knowledge system in which techniques are continuously updated to reflect current understanding and needs. The challenge is to minimize delay as ideas flow from intent through scientific capability, and finally to implementation to achieve desired outcomes. The best way to do th...
Article
Approaches to fire management in the savanna ecosystems of the 2-million ha Kruger National Park, South Africa, have changed several times over the past six decades. These approaches have included regular and flexible prescribed burning on fixed areas and a policy that sought to establish a lightning-dominated fire regime. We sought to establish wh...
Article
Ecology has emerged as a global science, and there is a pressing need to identify ecological rules - general principles that will improve its predictive capability for scientists and its usefulness for managers and policy makers. Ideally, the generality and limits of these ecological rules should be assessed using extensive, coor- dinated experimen...
Article
Summary 1. Despite the fact that fire is considered an important disturbance in savannas across the world and is used widely as a management tool in conservation areas, little is known about the effects of burning on their insect communities. 2. This study made use of a 50-year fire experiment to investigate the responses of ant assemblages to long...
Article
Aim The search for possible factors influencing the spatial variation of grass quality is an important step towards understanding the distribution of herbivores, as well as a step towards identifying crucial areas for conservation and restoration. A number of studies have shown that grass quality at a regional scale is influenced by climatic variab...
Article
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The experimental burn plot (EBP) trial initiated in 1954 is one of few ongoing long-term fire ecology research projects in Africa. The trial aims to assess the impacts of different fire regimes in the Kruger National Park. Recent studies on the EBPs have raised questions as to the experimental design of the trial, and the appropriate model specific...
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Estimates of minimum areas required for effective biodiversity conservation differ substantially. Scientific reserve design and placement procedures indicate that between 30 and 75% of any region may be required to sample biodiversity features. These estimates do not routinely incorporate measures for sampling viable populations of species or explo...
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At a landscape scale, the combined influence of biotic and abiotic factors may determine the distribution patterns of large herbivores in African savanna ecosystems. Herbivores foraging in these ecosystems may become nutritionally stressed during an annual dry season when both forage quality and quantity are reduced. Additionally, the locations of...
Article
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Fire-prone savanna ecosystems in southern African conservation areas are managed by prescribed burning in order to conserve biodiversity. A prescribed burning system designed to maximise the benefits of a diverse fire regime in savanna conservation areas is described. The area burnt per year is a function of the grass fuel load, and the number of f...
Article
Long-term continuous observations of hunting lions Panthera leo in the Kruger National Park were used to assess the variables affecting hunting success of male and female lions. Generalized linear models revealed that seven variables had significant independent influences on hunting success, with the most important being the prey species hunted. Th...
Article
Fire-prone savanna ecosystems in southern African conservation areas are managed by prescribed burning in order to conserve biodiversity. A prescribed burning system designed to maximise the benefits of a diverse fire regime in savanna conservation areas is described. The area burnt per year is a function of the grass fuel load, and the number of f...
Article
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Copyright: 2000 Water Research Commission Catchment management agencies (CMA's) have no tested precedent in South Africa and will have to evolve in complex and changing business, social and natural environments as they strive to ensure that equity and social justice are achieved within ecological limits. Traditionally, very different styles of mana...
Article
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A lack of knowledge together with vacillating fire management approaches in the Kruger National Park until the mid 1950s, gave rise to a long term fire research experiment aimed at shedding light on savanna responses to various combinations of fire fre- quencies and seasons. This trial was laid out in 1954 in four of the six major vegetation zones...
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This paper provides fundamental information on distribution and density of the genus Cubitermes, Wasm. quantified for future monitoring. After distribution trends have been established, changes in Cubitermes density over time can be brought into contention with other factors in the Kruger National Park, such as the impact of fire frequency, water d...
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Changes in the cover and density of shrubs and trees were assessed from aerial photographs (1940, 1974 and 1998) as well as from fixed-point photographs taken in 1984 and 1996 in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Woody cover (trees and shrubs combined) increased by 12% on granite substrates but decreased by 64% on basalt substrates over the p...
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This paper analyses the fire history of the Kruger National Park (1.9 million ha), South Africa, for different periods in the park's history, where fire protection was followed by prescribed burning and then a 'natural' (lightning) fire policy. Fires covering 16.79 million ha occurred between 1941 and 1996 (16% of the area burning each year on aver...
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Ecologists representing many research institutions reached broad agreement about establishing a formal long-term ecological research and monitoring platform for South Africa. A network of research sites (Long-term Ecological Research sites, LTERs(1)) will improve our understanding of ecosystem function, our ability to diagnose chronic and detriment...
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"The ecologists and managers who attended a workshop in the Kruger National Park to develop an adaptive management process still find themselves in awe of the value of the vision they sketched with stakeholders at that time. It continues to provide excitement and stimulus as they build and shape the process to fit the unique and changing circumstan...
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Between 1986 and 1993, the roan antelope Hippotragus equinus population in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, declined from about 450 to ca.45 animals. Data from long term monitoring of herbivore numbers, sex, age and herd structure and of vegetation condition, supported by spatial and demographic modelling and predator sighting records, were...
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At least ten 2 ha belt-transects were surveyed in each of the 20 northern landscape zones of the Kruger National Park. Termite mounds were recorded and activity within the termitaria was determined. Approximately 1.1 million active mounds occur in the northern KNP (approximately 47 % of all mounds in the area), with an average density of 1.1 active...
Article
1. In trying to operationalize the notion of sustainable ecosystem health, ecologists have focused on identifying sets of indicators which can be used to assess river condition relative to some normative, undegraded condition. Recognition and description of this normative state has proved elusive, particularly in highly variable semiarid ecosystems...
Article
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The two major land classification systems used in the Kruger National Park are discussed with respect to their development, sub-classification, scale, as well as current and potential usages. Their relatedness to one another, as well as to six other broad scale vegetation classifications is investigated and major similarities and differences are po...
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The principle of peripheral development and its relevance to South African National Parks has been a recurring subject for debate. One viewpoint is that the principle should be applied as a general rule, and that in future all major developments of infrastructure should be on the periphery rather than the interior of national parks. The Scientific...
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Arising from public debate held in Midrand on 4 May 1995, the South African National Parks undertook to review its policy for the management of elephant in the Kruger National Park. The new policy focuses on the extent and intensity of elephant impacts on biodiversity rather than on numbers of elephants per se, and is based on four fundamental prin...