The University of Venda (Univen) in collaboration with the South African National Biodiversity institute (SANBI) hosted the opening ceremony of the 45th Annual Research Symposium on the Management of Biological Invasions in Southern Africa. A total of 160 delegates attended the conference. The Official Opening Ceremony of the Annual Research Symposium was held at the University’s Auditorium on Tuesday, 3 July 2018. The ceremony broke down the need of hosting the symposium of this magnitude every year and why Univen is the perfect place to host the 2018 Symposium under the given theme ‘Invasions trans-boundary’. The symposium is underway until Thursday, 05 July 2018.
Delivering the welcome address and acknowledgement of dignitaries that were present, the Univen Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Jan Crafford, thanked our Co-organisers, SANBI, for choosing Univen as the venue for the conference. Prof Crafford provided four distinct reasons as to why indeed Univen is best suited to host the symposium under the aforementioned theme. These reasons included the presence of Univen’s NRF Research Chair on Biodiversity Value and Change in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve, Univen’ s unique location situated within the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve, our long-standing collaborations with SANBI and our proximity to four international borders (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland). In his concluding
remarks he extended well wishes to the participants and his anticipation for meaningful discourse throughout the symposium.
In her welcome address, Chief Executive Officer of SANBI, Dr Moshibudi Rampedi expressed recognition as to how far the symposium has moved since its establishment in 1973. Dr Rampedi acknowledged the privilege that SANBI finds itself in when it comes to partnering with a number of institutions and organisations, not only in leading and coordinating research but in monitoring and reporting on the state of biodiversity in South Africa.
Dr Rampedi unpacked the theme for this year’s symposium ‘Invasions trans-boundary’. She elaborated that this symposium focuses on invasions across protected areas and biospheres, invasions across national boundaries and species boundaries and the impact of invasions across sectors.
Furthermore, she explained how diverse and unpredictable biological invasions may be but hoped that some of the papers presented throughout the 4-day symposium will bring a further understanding to controlling and eradicating biological invasions due to their severe impact on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
Councillor Tshimangadzo Malada also delivered a word of appreciation on behalf of the Mayor of Thulamela Municipality. He mentioned how biological invasions are the second highest threat to biodivdeirsity as well as a major threat to food and water security as well as livelihoods in the whole world. Councillor Malada further wished a productive discussion in an attempt to manage biological invasions. He concluded his talk by mentioning that Thulamela Municipality is proud to host this important symposium.
Cathy Vise, who spoke on behalf of the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve, shared her excitement in hosting the symposium and believed it was one of the many ways to bring nature and people together. She also gave a brief overview of how far the biosphere reserve in Limpopo stretches across. She said that it is important for people to learn how to live with nature and protect it.
In between speeches, the Dzomo la Mupo Tshigombela and Malende Dancers gave a warm welcome to the symposium participants. Their performance played an important role in showcasing the culture and pride of the Vha-Venda people.
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Date: 05 July 2018