29 June, 2006

Environmental and Cultural research grants ...

Environmental and Cultural research grants
The Baartman/Biko Environmental Initiative at Forest Hall
Plettenberg Bay

The Baartman/Biko Environmental Initiative's privately funded first Project is a holistic African environmental venture of biome research, evaluation, and active forest restoration of colonially transformed land for the establishment of genetic corridors of indigenous biodiversity supporting the adjacent Tsitsikamma National Park. The project seeks to integrate African historical, social and scientific perspective within the processes of multi-disciplinary environmental studies.

The Baartman/Biko Environmental Initiative is headquartered within the Sara Baartman Private Nature Reserve at Forest Hall, a colonial manor house constructed in 1864 from Outeniqua Yellowwood and unbaked clay brick located on 179 hectares bordering the Tsitsikamma National Park.

Research Grants & Stipends

The Baartman/Biko Environmental Initiative has obtained private funding covering grants, stipends, accommodation and board for research at undergraduate, graduate and Post Graduate levels. Grants of between R5,000 and R25,000 plus accommodation and board are available to researchers for approved projects in the physical Environmental sciences as well as a broad range of multidisciplinary fields contributing to the context of the Environmental sciences including; pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial African history, the History of Science, and Archaeology covering early, middle and late stone age.

The initiative is seeking researchers interested in the indigenous African physical and social environment with special emphasis on:

1) Furthering the understanding of human genetic evolution in the Southern and Western Cape Province during African Middle Stone-Age period between 80,000 and 60,000 years ago.

2) Developing and improving techniques in the working of and dating of African Middle Stone-Age sites within the Western Cape Province

3) Furthering the cross disciplinary understanding of technology, social and language development during the African Middle Stone-Age period.

4) Furthering the understanding of the role of indigenous forests in Khoekhoen and San cultures prior to colonial presence and transformation.

5) Furthering the understanding of the impact of colonial economic activity including slavery on the African social and physical environment.

6) Furthering knowledge of the role of alien vegetation in water availability in the Western Cape Province.

7) The role of the Environment in breaking down the legacy of spatial Apartheid in the Western Cape Province.

8) Knowledge and understanding of the processes and patterns of current (and historic) bio-geophysical features on a ground truthed and spatially explicit basis.

9) Studies relating to the understanding of and implementation of local restoration ecology (inclusive of marine, wetland, Afro-temperate Forests, Thicket and fynbos habitats)

10) Developing sustainable conservation economies within the range of local ecological services (including the marine and terrestrial environments)

11) Continued experimentation and implementation of horticultural propagation techniques and rapid-re-aforestation.

12) Development of "curator-ship" and management techniques within a living-museum milieu and "sense-of-people-and-place" context.

13) Furthering the understanding of the growing and utilisation of medicinal plants

All Grant applicants wishing to be considered for the September 15th Grant of Awards must submit via e-mail to Dr. Bool Smuts, Senior Grant Adjudicator, c/o foresthall@cyberperk.co.za the following information before the 15th of August 06:

1) Name and contact details (email required)

2) Description of Research to be undertaken

3) Detailed CV

4) Recommendation of Advisor from affiliated institution or school for research as submitted.

Forest Hall Facilities

The Forest Hall Manor House, grounds, nursery and various out buildings provide logistical support for the Baartman-Biko Environmental Initiative within the Sara Baartman Private Nature Reserve which is located at (33°59'22.06"S-23°29'34.80"E).

Researcher Accommodation

Forest Hall can accommodate and board up to eight researchers at a time.

Science Lab & Digital Research Centre

Onsite facilities include a basic scientific Laboratory and a digital research centre running state of the art Wintel and Mac platforms[1]. Centre wide wireless LAN and wireless 212k internet connectivity.

Digital production facilities include Video Post-production, Music Production, Web Production, Multimedia Graphic and Stills publishing and book publishing[2].

The laboratory consists of reference works (basic library), GIS, GPS, stereoscopic microscope and basic experimental & analysis equipment and elements. Researchers may be required to bring highly sophisticated or specialized equipment for the duration of their tenure.


A functional and experimental nursery has been established at forest hall. The current focus is on the development of adequate stock to support the full range of forest elements needed for effective rehabilitation and restoration practices. Records and data are kept of all experiments and propagation activities and monitoring occurs on a daily basis by trained field staff.

Seed Collection & Propagation
The Centre is licensed to collect and propagate different species of indigenous forbs, trees and shrubs. This licensing will be expanded as needed. Seeds are also obtained from private individuals and institutions like the Kirstenbosch seed services. A re-aforestation and indigenous medicinal plant seed bank is in the process of being developed.

Permanent Institutional Research Participation

Accredited Educational or Research institutions with interest in African Environmental issues may apply to acquire a unit of land within the Sara Baartman Private Nature Reserve for its own or joint research purposes as well as the construction of lodging facilities for students, faculty and researchers. There are currently 6 institutional units[3] available within the Reserve ranging in size from 5 ha (11 acres) to 10 ha (22 acres). The Reserve is adjacent to the Tsitsikamma National Park and all units feature unique indigenous Afro-montane forest remnants with areas historically transformed by colonial economic activity. All units share the Reserves central access to over 100 kilometres of SANParks managed Indian Ocean coastline situated between Plettenberg Bay and Storms River. Two of the Reserve's 10 ha units are on the coast itself and would be highly suitable for institutions interested in the inter-coastal zone or littoral coastal forest/scrub forest. The Baartman-Biko Reserve is nearby several archaeological sites of historical interest including sea side Caves utilized by humans over the past 11,000 years.

This opportunity enables institutions from around the world to establish an African field research facility in an area uniquely suited to the multi-disciplinary study of the African Environmental habitat including, transformed environments, indigenous forest, fynbos, inter coastal zone and human evolution.

For additional information regarding institutional site acquisition inquiry's may be directed to foresthall@cyberperk.co.za :

For any further details regarding the current re-aforestation and other research projects within the Sara Baartman Private Nature Reserve at Forest Hall please contact:
Albert Ackhurst
Albert Arthur Ackhurst
Sara Baartman Private Nature Reserve
Mobille: +27 83 733 2271
Landline: 044 534 8938
e-mail: bertweed@wol.co.za