Associate Professor Susi Vetter from the Department of Botany was recently elected President of the Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA). The GSSA elects a new incoming President every year who serves on their Council for the following three years (as Vice-President, President, and Immediate Past President, respectively).
Founded in 1965, the GSSA’s mission is to advance rangeland ecology and pasture management in Africa. The GSSA publishes relevant, high-quality research through the African Journal of Range & Forage Science and holds an annual congress at which scientifically rigorous papers are presented. Other core mandates are facilitating the translation of science into policy and practice, developing human capacity to study and manage rangelands and pastures, and assisting decision-makers in understanding the links between ecosystem services, global change, sustainability and human wellbeing.
“I attended my first GSSA Congress as a student in 1998, and the Society and its members have been invaluable in supporting and shaping my career ever since,” said Professor Vetter. “The GSSA is an amazingly dynamic and diverse Society that brings together academics and practitioners in the fields of ecology, agriculture and conservation.”
Prof Vetter previously served on the GSSA’s Council from 2006 to 2013, including six years as Editor-in-Chief of the African Journal of Range & Forage Science. Through the GSSA, she developed a national rangeland management policy in South Africa. She is currently part of an international Working Group supporting the UN International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralism (IYRP) that will take place in 2026.
Prof Vetter sees the timing of her presidency of the GSSA and her involvement in the IYRP as especially fortuitous. “Rangelands are undervalued and threatened globally, including by massive tree planting schemes aimed at capturing carbon but with serious consequences for local land users. It is an issue close to my heart and to my research. The GSSA will contribute to the IYRP’s efforts – in fact, the IYRP co-chair is the outgoing GSSA President, Dr Igshaan Samuels - and it is exciting to be in a position where my research and experience can be brought to bear on important global issues, which have important ecological and socio-economic consequences.”