The Science of Conservation

You are here


International on-site postgraduate course

The Science of Conservation

Managing biodiversity in a changing world

18 - 29 February 2020

Southern African Wildlife College, South Africa



Due to human land use and climate change, the world around us is changing rapidly. Natural vegetation and wildlife are challenged to adapt to these changes, but in many areas biodiversity is declining. The loss of biodiversity has been put forward as an underestimated driver of global change. The repercussions of these losses for ecosystem functioning and human well-being may be enormous.

At the same time, many areas are experiencing a rewilding in terms of both natural vegetation as well as wildlife. Both declining as well as increasing biodiversity create huge global challenges but also opportunities. Challenges arise when, for example, increasing numbers of wildlife enter the human-environment interface, creating conflicts with agriculture and forestry, increasing zoonotic disease risk, and disease transmission between wild and domestic animals. On the contrary, biodiversity may provide opportunities in the form of ecosystem services, such as pollination, meat from hunting, recreation and income-generating opportunities through eco-tourism. Research on conservation should be focused on finding ways to mitigate conflicts and to promote opportunities.

Traditionally, major advancements have been made in the field of ecology, but conservation research has increasingly acknowledged the importance of economic and social dimensions in determining the trajectory of human-biodiversity interaction. The complexity of human-wildlife interaction raises a fundamental question: How do we balance healthy and diverse vegetation and wildlife with the requirement of social and economic sustainability? This question is central to this course on the science of conservation.

Course set-up

During the course, we will lecture and discuss topics that are at the frontier of conservation research. The course will last for 14 days and will consist of the following elements:

  • Welcome / Introduction to the course
  • Introduction lecture (Key note)
  • Poster carousel in which lecturers and participants present themselves
  • Lectures (morning) (45 minutes):
    • 2 lectures per morning on the days that we do not go into the field
    • Specific topics to be determined
    • Lectures address fundamental scientific elements as well as application  
    • Followed by plenary discussions
  • Plenary discussion (30 minutes):
    • These are convened by participants who have prepared the discussion with the material offered by the speaker prior to the course.
    • Apart from challenging the speaker on what has been presented and the literature supplied the conveners facilitate the discussion that arises from the rest of the group
  • Group work (assignment):
    • Participants will be split into groups of 5-6 members.
    • Each group is given an assignment. Selection of topics for the group assignments are related to the topics that are at the frontier of conservation research.
    • Assignment must be related to an actual issues in the Hoedspruit area that can be investigated by the group.
    • Issues must be defined into clear research questions where potential stakeholders are involved in defining the questions.
    • In total some 10 topics will be presented and each group selects 1.
    • Assignments consist of an analysis of a pending issues that has both fundamental as well as practical elements
    • Each group makes a proposal of how they will address the issue (questions to be addressed, methodology and plan of action)
    • 2-3 days will be spent in the field to investigate the issue and collect information
    • Daily reporting on progress
  • Presentation of course outcomes at the International Savanna Science Network Meeting (Skukuza, Kruger NP)
    • On Saturday 29 February, the course ends officially. 
    • For those interested, we will try to facilitate a time slot for those interested in it, to present their group work findings in the International Savanna Science Network Meeting which is organised in the Skukuza camp in Kruger NP

More details about the exact set-up of the course will follow soon.

Lecturers / Organisers contributing to the course
General information
Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates and other academics
Group Size Min. 20, max. 35 participants
Course duration 14 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Every three years
Number of credits 4 ECTS
Lecturers See above
Prior knowledge No prior knowledge is required
Location Southern African Wildlife College, Hoedspruit, South Africa


Fees 1
PE&RC / WIMEK / WASS / WIAS PhD candidates with an approved TSP €    650,- €    700,-
a) All other PhD candidates
b) Postdocs and staff of the above mentioned Graduate Schools
€ 1.350,- € 1.400,-
All others € 2.000,- € 2.050,-

1 The course fee includes accommodation, local transportation, all meals, coffee/tea, and a reader
2 The Early-Bird Fee applies to anyone who REGISTERS ON OR BEFORE 21 JANUARY 2020


  • If you need an invoice to complete your payment, please send an email to, including ALL relevant details that should be mentioned on the invoice (e.g., purchase order no., specific addresses, attendees, etc.).
  • The Early-Bird policy is such that the moment of REGISTRATION (and not payment) is leading for determining the fee that applies to you.
  • Please make sure that your payment is arranged within two weeks after your registration.
  • It is the participant's responsibility to make sure that he/she (or his/her secretary) completes the payment correctly and in time.
PE&RC Cancellation Conditions
  • Up to 4 (four) weeks prior to the start of the course, cancellation is free of charge.
  • Up to 2 (two) weeks prior to the start of the course, a fee of € 650,- will be charged.
  • In case of cancellation within two weeks prior to the start of the course, a fee of € 1350,- will be charged.
  • If you do not show at all, a fee of € 2.000,- will nevertheless be charged.

Note: If you would like to cancel your registration, ALWAYS inform us (and do note that you will be kept to the cancellation conditions)

More information

Dr. Claudius van de Vijver (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485116

Dr. Lennart Suselbeek (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485426


To register for this course, please fill in the form below.