The Summer Drylands Programme (SDP), a joint venture between Gobabeb Research and Training Centre and the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia, is an annual two-month research intensive internship for current students or recent graduates from Namibian tertiary institutions.
The internship programme aims to empower young, emerging scientistsand equip them with experience and training in research methodology through applied approaches, critical thinking and problem solving. The programme brings the students to unique desert areas of the country to gain hands-on field work experiencethat they are not able to obtain from within a classroom environment. The 2016-2017 programme marks the 20th year of this successful training opportunity. Previous SDP alumni have gone on to make significant contributions in the environmental sector and many are highly regarded as innovators, scientists and thought-leaders in their respective fields.
SDP 20 is composed of 12 talented students studying a variety of biological related fields including microbiology, natural resource management and agriculture. The main objective of this year’s research is to determine the impact of artificial water points on wildlife conservation in the Namib Desert, a hyper-arid system. The impacts of the artificial water pointswere determined using a variety of methods measuring several variables, chiefly vegetation, dung, tracks and soil. SDP students conducted their research at four water holes located in the Namib-Naukluft Park: Natab a Topnaar settlement along the Kuiseb River; Gemsbokwater near Ganab; Tsamsvlei, close to Sesriem campsite at Sossusvlei; and Escourt a former commercial farm, agricultural research station and now a facility of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. The data collected by the students will also be shared with and utilised by the global Biodesert Survey, a project run by the University of Rey Juan Carlos in Spain, which focuses on determining the impacts of grazing and climate change in arid systems around the world.Thus, the SDP participants’ data and findings will not only contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the Namib Desert, but also towards a greater understanding of drylands worldwide.
This year’s SDP students are an exceptionally dedicated and consciences group, waking up at 4:30 in the morning to conduct field work and analysing their data late into the night.The participants will present their findings on Saturday, 28th of January 2017 at Gobabeb Research and Training Centre at 14:30. The public is invited to attend to learn more about sustainable rangeland management from our young scientists!
Programme for Information Day 2017