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Three books in eight months

Date Released: Tue, 3 May 2011 09:19 +0200

The Department of Environmental Science is celebrating the publication of a third book in less than eight months, of which individual staff members are editors, co-editors or authors.

The run of good form started in September last year with publication of a multi-authored book in collaboration with colleagues from the Geography department. The book, entitled “Livelihoods and vulnerability in the arid and semi-arid lands of southern Africa: exploring the links between ecosystem services and poverty alleviation”, was published by Nova in the United States, and brings together a wealth of research on the links between the provision of healthy ecosystems and human well-being.

Led by Charlie Shackleton, the book was a product from a previous piece of contract research funded by the UK ESPA (Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation) programme which sponsored seven scoping baseline studies internationally.

Transforming the research report into book format took longer than anticipated, and was greatly aided by Shackleton being on sabbatical for the second half of 2009, the first task of which was to complete the book and send it through to the publishers.

Co-authors on the 242 page book include current and former members of the departments of Environmental Science (Sheona Shackleton, James Gambiza and Christo Fabricius) and Geography (Kate Rowntree and Etienne Nel) along with Andrew Ainslie (former research associate in Anthropology) and Penny Urquhart.

This was followed by an edited volume “Reforming land and resource use in South Africa: impacts on livelihoods” published by Routledge as part of their international series on land reform. This book was born out of the SANPAD sponsored conference in 2008 on poverty in South Africa and has resulted in a couple of texts based largely, although not exclusively, on chapters developed from papers delivered at that conference.

Edited by Paul Hebinck of Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Charlie Shackleton at Rhodes, the 336 page book offers 14 chapters on various aspects of land reform and resource use in South Africa spanning the urban-rural continuum.

It brings together contributions from natural and social scientists in a unique offering, embedding the debates in a livelihoods and poverty perspective. In continuing the collaboration with other departments at Rhodes, the book includes contributions from Michelle Cocks at ISER, Tony Dold at Botany and Chris de Wet in Anthropology, along with other staff (Sheona Shackleton) and postgraduates (Claire Martins) in Environmental Science.

The most recent offering entitled “Non-timber forest products in the global context” came out in April under the Springer banner. Edited by Sheona Shackleton, Charlie Shackleton and Patricia Shanley the book offers 14 chapters summarising key international debates around the role and importance of non-timber forest products in forests, conservation, livelihoods and poverty alleviation.

As with the other two books it took a long time from conception to final delivery. Sheona Shackleton was first approached to consider such a book in 2006, with the subsequent planning taking almost a further two years before potential lead authors for the different chapters were approached.

It was a long slog, but as Sheona says “the book represents the most authoritative compilation of international debates around non-timber forests products, and will be a landmark publication for years to come”. It includes 45 authors from every continent of the world other than Antarctica. Continuing the collaboration with colleagues at Rhodes, Michelle Cocks and Tony Dold are authors of one of the chapters.

Across the two edited volumes, Rhodes staff and postgraduates are authors or co-authors of ten chapters overall. Both Sheona and Charlie feel that they need to take a break before tackling any new books to focus on the backlog of journal papers resulting from the extensive demands on their time when editing chapters for the three books. That is not to say however, that they haven’t got future book compilations already in mind.