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SERIAL: Socio- Ecological Resilience in Agricultural Landscapes


The eastern Free State is one of the most agriculturally productive, but also one of the poorest regions in South Africa. One in ten adults has no formal schooling and three out of ten are unemployed. Moreover, the region is also a global priority area for biodiversity conservation. There is an urgent need to promote rural development without threatening biodiversity further. Since climate change models predict that the area will become hotter with more erratic rainfall, it is necessary to diversify development trajectories beyond commercial agriculture. This project aims to (i) promote rural development, (ii) enhance climate resilience, and (iii) ensure biodiversity conservation, by focusing on an underexploited habitat type. We will examine whether sandstone mountains can maintain biodiversity in the face of climate change to ensure the continued supply of ecosystem services to the rural poor. We will then explore the ecotourism potential of these mountains as a form of economic diversification and examine any opportunity costs associated with expanding the economy beyond commercial agriculture.

Intervention type

South Initiatives


01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

This project is being implemented in:
Flemish promoter Bram Vanschoenwinkel
Local promoter Falko Buschke
Local partner institution Vrije Universiteit Brussel
visit www.vub.ac.be
Local partner institution University of the Free State
visit http://www.ufs.ac.za/
Budget € 68.784