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A Kudu in the C·I·B

Dr Brian van Wilgen at Koegelberg

C·I·B Core Team Member, Dr Brian van Wilgen, has been honoured in the SA National Parks' prestigious Kudu Awards 2010 in the category “Corporate Contribution to Conservation Award (individual)” for his significant contributions to conservation.

The awards programme, currently in its 6th year, is an initiative that “aims to recognise external stakeholders for their contribution and efforts in making SANParks the custodian of choice for the national parks system, and that also plays a significant role in the conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage, thus protecting South Africa's most valuable national assets”. The awards honour individuals both within SANParks and from around the country.

With three decades of experience as a terrestrial ecologist specialising in fire ecology and in the ecology and management of invasive alien plant species Dr van Wilgen was one of the main motivators who persuaded the government to introduce its innovative poverty-relief Working for Water (WfW) programme. Between 1996 and 2004 he acted as scientific advisor to WfW, with regard to the ecology and management of ecosystems using fire.

“My career goals have always been centred on making a positive difference to conservation, and I've been privileged to be able to do so in a country that has an incredible diversity of national parks. I don't know if all South Africans appreciate how lucky they are in this respect, but I would encourage them to find out for themselves”, says Van Wilgen.

Dr van Wilgen is currently Chief Ecologist in the CSIR Natural Resources Department. He is currently a member of the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and of the World Commission on Protected Areas.

The Kudu Awards ceremony took place in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park on the 25th November 2010.

In May 2010 Dr van Wilgen was also awarded with a NSTF award in the category named “an individual who has made outstanding contributions for over a decade or more”, for his contributions to the understanding of ecology and management of fire-prone ecosystems and invasive alien plants.