Garden Route: Scientific Services
Garden Route Scientific Services was established to develop internal scientific capacity to serve the Garden Route National Park (GRNP), which includes the previously proclaimed Tsitsikamma and Wilderness National Parks, State Forests and mountain catchment areas, as well as the Knysna National Lake Area. The primary objective of the Garden Route Scientific Services is, through a collaborative approach, to conduct and facilitate monitoring and research of fynbos, forest, fresh water, estuarine and marine systems in the region, with a view to provide scientific information in support of park planning and management.
Garden Route Scientific Services is currently housed in two primary offices - one in the town of Knysna and the other on the eastern shores of Rondevlei, just outside the town of Sedgefield.
The first SANParks scientist in the Garden Route, a marine biologist, was based in Tsitsikamma NP in 1980. An administrative office was later established in George in 1988, and relocated to Rondevlei in 1991. Through a process of consolidation of Scientific Services personnel into one node, by 1993 the Rondevlei office housed a manager, a marine biologist, an aquatic scientist, a terrestrial ecologist, a research assistant and an administrative clerk.
The staff complement expanded over the following years with the employment of biotechnicians and an earth systems scientist. The team provided scientific services to several southern parks including Tsitsikamma, Knysna, Wilderness, Bontebok, West Coast, Karoo, Tankwa Karoo, and Agulhas.
The incorporation of the then Department of Water Affairs and Forestry's (DWAF) State Forests and Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountain catchments into the GRNP in 2005 saw the amalgamation of DWAF's scientific unit, which included personnel with skills in both fynbos and forestry sciences, as well as GIS, into SANParks. This unit remained based in Knysna.
The opening of the Cape Research Centre (CRC) in 2008 was preceded by the transfer of the earth systems scientist from Rondevlei to Cape Town as start-up personnel. The CRC took over responsibility for Bontebok, Agulhas, Table Mountain, West Coast, and Tankwa Karoo NPs, thus enabling the Garden Route Scientific Services to concentrate on areas in the Garden Route.
The Garden Route Scientific Services currently consists of 19 permanent staff members, with nine located at Rondevlei, nine in Knysna and one at the Saasveld campus of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Garden Route Scientific Services offices: Rondevlei, Knysna and Saasveld.