News & Events: Events, Conferences and Workshops
3rd Southern Deserts Conference - Kalahari 2008: Climate change and the peopling of the Southern deserts
16th-19th September 2008 - Molopo Lodge, Northern Cape, South Africa
What was it all about?
Deserts and drylands embrace some of the world's major habitats, covering pproximately 47% (all drylands) or 20% (arid and hyperarid deserts) of the global land area and supporting around a billion and 313 million people respectively. The deserts of the southern hemisphere have remarkably long records of human settlement and usage in some cases up to 100,000 years or longer. Human interactions with these regions have operated under an enormous range of social, technological environmental and economic conditions. There is now a pressing need to acquire and apply an understanding of these interactions within desert environments. Such an understanding is vital in managing scarce and fragile resources, in mitigating natural hazards and in determining how desert environments, their people and resources will change and adapt within the context of climate change.
The 3rd Southern Deserts Conference followed two extremely successful meetings that took place in Canberra, 2002 and Arica, 2005. The 3rd fittingly took place this September amongst the red dunes and white pans of the Northern Cape Kalahari. Over 50 delegates from 4 continents attended to discuss issues on the theme of "Climate Change and the Peopling of the Southern Deserts". The strength of this meeting lay in the diversity of interests of those that attended. From tracing the history of desert science from the 1800's to the present day, challenging the concepts of deserts and examining their past, contemporary and future dynamics. Central to the theme was the role of people in deserts including their occupation over hundreds of thousands of years, their imprint on the changing landscape, conflicts with wildlife, farming practice and policy.
We would very much like to thank our sponsors, whose generosity has meant that over half of the participants have received support of one kind or another to attend the meeting.
- Elsevier student Bursary: Cynthia Mooketsi, University of Botswana/University of Western Australia.
- Best Poster Presentation: Lynne Quick, University of Cape Town.
- Best Poster Presentation: Marcelo Morales, University of Buenos Aires.
The potential for a themed proceedings issue of an international, refereed journal is being considered. Several papers have to date been offered including those that represent research collaborations and intercontinental efforts. Further offers are requested by 30 November 2008. Please email email@example.com
The Conference was followed by two field excursions: One led by David Thomas and Sallie Burrough heading north into the Kalahari and one led by Mike Meadows heading south to the Cape.
To see some of the highlights of these trips or to share your photos of the conference or trips with others please go to: http://www.flickr.com/groups/3sd-kalahari/
The next Southern Deserts conference?
Such is the success of these conferences that this may not be the end for Southern Deserts meetings. Tentative plans are underway for a fourth Southern Deserts Conference in either 2 or 4 years time, this time in Patagonia.
About the conference
Some of the great deserts of the world lie in the southern hemisphere. This is the third conference that brings together research from the desert regions of South America, Southern Africa and Australia focussing on the history of desert landscapes, desert people and their future, as well as the history of ideas that have shaped eremology in the southern Hemisphere.
- Southern desert science: a history of ideas.
- Environmental responses to global Quaternary changes.
- Evolution of southern desert environments.
- The peopling of the deserts and the development of desert societies.
- Southern desert futures.
- David Thomas, Oxford University, UK
- Mike Smith, National Museum of Australia, Canberra, Australia
- Michael Meadows, University of Cape Town, South Africa
- Calogero Santoro Vargas, Universidad de Tarapacá, Chile
The Conference will be held at the Molopo Kalahari Lodge. Named for the currently dry river the Molopo, the lodge is situated in the southwest Kalahari, 200km (90 minutes) north of Upington, 5km from the Botswana border and 60km from the world famous Kalahari Trans Frontier Park.
The conference is being organised by Prof. David Thomas and Sallie Burrough. If you have any queries about the conference or would like further information, please contact them via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Optional Post Conference Excursions
1) From the Desert to the Cape
This three day excursion will travel a north-south transect of southern Africa's winter-rainfall zone. From the xeric savanna of the southern Kalahari, we will travel west across the Nama Karoo of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa to the Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park, which is home to one of the most diverse desert floras on earth. It is also home to the rock hyrax, and we will visit one of the many hyrax middens that are being used to improve our understanding of environmental change in the region during the late Quaternary. From the Richtersveld, we will drive south through the mountains and desert landscapes of South Africa's Succulent Karoo, arriving in the Cederberg Mountains for our second night. The Cederberg Mountains have been the focus of intensive palaeoenvironmental work over the last several years, and we will visit hyrax midden sites at Pakhuis Pass, De Rif and Truitjes Kraal, as well as wetland sites in the Driehoek Valley. As part of the core of the Fynbos Biome, this region, along with the Succulent Karoo, make up one of the world's great biodiversity hotspots. Cape Town is only a few hours from the Cederberg, and is the final step from hyperarid environments of the Richtersveld to the subhumid Mediterranean climate of the Fairest Cape.
- Length of Trip: 3 days
- Starts: Molopo Lodge 19th September
- Ends: Cape Town 22nd September
- Cost: £250 (Cost includes all meals and accommodation for 3 days)
If you would like to express an interest for this trip please send an email to: email@example.com
2) The Kalahari Desert: Archaeological and Palaeoenvironmental sites of the Kalahari (Namibia / Botswana
This eight-day post conference fieldtrip, from the 20th-28th September 2008, will take in the red dunes of the Western Kalahari on the Namibian side of the border before heading into Botswana and visiting the relict shorelines of Lake Ngami 'discovered' by Livingstone in 1849. It will then head north towards the Panhandle of the Okavango Delta and the Tsodilo Hills, now with World Heritage status and the site of one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world. The trip will finish with a stopover in the Makgadikgadi basin and an excursion to examine the rich archaeology and bleak landscape of the the largest salt flat complex in the world, once one of the biggest lakes in Africa.
- Start: Molopo Lodge, South Africa 19th September 2008
- Finish: Maun, Botswana 27th September 2008