Dr Ruwanza joins the teamDate Released: Mon, 25 June 2018 15:38 +0200
He holds a Ph.D. in Botany and MSc in Conservation Ecology from Stellenbosch University (graduated in 2012 and 2009, respectively). Prior to that, he graduated with an MSc in Environmental Policy and Planning and a BSc Honours in Geography from University of Zimbabwe. He is a Y2 National Research Foundation (NRF) rated scientist and a DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (CIB) core team member.
His research career started with work in environmental policy and planning, where he researched on the socio-economic contribution of urban agriculture to city dwellers in Zimbabwe. To develop a deeper understanding of environmental policy and planning, he embarked on a research project aimed to examine the impact of land resettlement on vegetation cover and wildlife habitat in Zimbabwe. In 2007, he relocated to South Africa and joined the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), where his career in ecology started. His ecological restoration projects looked at old agricultural fields and riparian system restoration. The above-mentioned projects were funded by BIOTA Southern Africa Phase III and CIB, in collaboration with Working for Water (WfW). Results of the river restoration project have contributed to the development of alien clearing guidelines by WfW. Besides the above-mentioned research projects, Dr. Ruwanza has also examined alien plant responses to climate change and soil nutrient enrichment. After six years of conducting research in the field of ecological restoration, he decided to grow his understanding of plant ecology by researching on ecological changes caused by Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) harvesting. The above-mentioned research work was done in collaboration with NRF-SARCHI chair in Interdisciplinary Science in Land and Natural Resource Use for Sustainable Livelihoods at Rhodes University. At a policy level, he has worked on mainstreaming environmental issues in Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and development of Invasive Species Control Plans. Recently, he has been awarded an NRF-Thuthuka grant to examine social and ecological effects of Lantana camara invasion in Vhembe Biosphere, Limpopo Province of South Africa.
His broader future vision is to make progress in research and teaching in the field of ecology. His specific research aims are to carry out impactful projects in ecological systems, producing results that positively improve people’s lives as well as contributing to environmental conservation. He believes that research should change local people’s lives. Besides publishing and communicating his research in scientific journals, he also intends to train young South Africans and graduate more students.