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Michael J. Samways

Stellenbosch University, Distinguished Professor, Department of Conservation Ecology & Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. Focuses on all aspects of insect conservation, both nationally and internationally. Recipient of the John Herschel Medal of the Royal Society of South Africa, the Senior Captain Scott and Gold Medals of the South African Academy of Science and Arts, and Gold Medal of the Academy of Science of South Africa. Received the life-time Stellenbosch University Chancellor’s Award, and IUCN/SSC Chair’s Citation of Excellence. His team, Mondi Ecological Networks Programme, was Winner of the NSTF-South32 Award. Michael recently received the Marsh Award from the Royal Entomological Society for outstanding and exemplary lifetime contribution in Insect Conservation. His latest book Insect Conservation: A Global Synthesis was launched by CABI in 2020.

Keynote:

Stabilizing the precipitous decline in biodiversity: putting in place large-scale ecological networks
Realistic strategies are required to halt the precipitous decline in biodiversity. These strategies must not only address current drivers and challenges, but also provide ecosystems with resilience in the face of ongoing climate change. One of the key aspects of conservation mitigation is to maintain functional connectivity across landscapes. Improving functional connectivity comes about by establishing large-scale networks of conservation corridors (Ecological networks; ENs) in and among transformed land areas. These ENs consist of mostly indigenous grassland and forest patches, as well as rivers and wetlands. This approach enables efficient agro-forestry production while also maintaining indigenous biodiversity. South Africa has for 25 years, been putting in place ENs to enable timber production while also conserving the country’s exceptional biodiversity. The success has been outstanding, with both the freshwater and terrestrial realms being included. A wide range of taxa, plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, as well as a host of functional groups, have been the focus in this initiative. While the original aim was to mitigate the impact of plantation forestry in the eastern part of the country, the EN approach is currently being applied to other production systems widely in the region.