Photo credit: Kelly Evans
In April 2022, Prof. Hendri Coetzee took up the role of Director of the NVT when he joined the Trust from North-West University. Professor Coetzee brings to this role a wealth of academic and practical knowledge in the areas of conservation and community engagement. He has worked on numerous conservation projects across South Africa and other parts of Africa, including a year as visiting professor at the American University in Cairo.
Hendri is passionate about the interface between humans and nature and brings to the NVT a deep understanding of conservation and socio-environmental issues, natural resource management and human-wildlife conflict, not to mention his love of all things related to botany and ornithology.
He holds a PhD in Environmental Sciences, an MA in Research Psychology and an honours degree in Psychology. To date, he has published a vast array of peer-reviewed scientific articles and authored two books, one on birds and the other on community development.
Lauren is an MSc graduate from the Nelson Mandela University, Gqeberha, who majored in Botany with a marine focus. She also holds an honours degree in Environmental Science.
Lauren started her journey with the NVT in April 2019 when she enrolled for the WWF-SA Environmental Leaders Graduate Internship Programme. This year-long development programme was the first step along an incredible journey that exposed her to a diverse range of practical conservation and education work that afforded her the opportunity to gain invaluable workplace experience and to network extensively.
In January 2021, Lauren rejoined the NVT as a Conservation Scientist Intern, working primarily on river and estuary research and as an Educator contributing to the environmental education programme. Early in 2022, Lauren was offered a permanent position with the NVT and is now continuing her work managing the NVT’s research on rivers and estuaries whilst still actively contributing to the Trust’s environmental education programme.
Sky, as of October 2022, has graduated from the University of the Western Cape and holds a BSc degree in the Biodiversity and Conservation Biology field.
Before starting at NVT, Sky volunteered at a variety of conservation-based projects and farms that practice regenerative agriculture. Through volunteering, Sky has gained hands on experience in how we can contribute towards the betterment of our planet and aims to do so through working with NVT.
Sky is heading our newly introduced forest research and management programme where he aims to create a better understanding of what state our indigenous forests are in as well as how we can manage these forests effectively.
Giorgio has for the past 23 years led the environmental integrative management between three diverse-run nature reserves, namely Fernkloof, Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve and Maanschynkop. Giorgio also holds a Master of Science in Botany from Rhodes University. He has collaborated with various local and international universities and published several scientific papers. Currently, Giorgio serves on various conservation committees regarding estuaries, baboon/human conflict resolution, and interacts with multi-disciplinary conservation organisations, local communities, and international NGOs.
The Urban Conservancy’s vision is to cultivate a mobilised, proactive Nature’s Valley Conservancy membership that works to promote and maintain Nature’s Valley as an extension of the Garden Route National Park, for wildlife, homeowners, and visitors to enjoy in perpetuity.
Kayla is an MSc graduate, through her studies she developed an interest in many avenues of conservation-related topics, especially invasion biology, bird conservation, restoration ecology, the relationship between environmental, social and economic issues, and climate change. Kayla completed her Honours year in 2020 with a project that explored restoration in the presence of extralimital species in fynbos.
In 2021, Kayla went on to study her Master’s degree in Conservation Biology at the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at UCT. Her study found that investing in invasive alien plant clearing in South Africa’s major catchment areas was more cost-effective than investing in built infrastructure interventions in all water supply systems in the country, except one.
Kayla also has experience in the environmental consulting industry, particularly for the renewable energy sector. Kayla now manages NVT’s Marine & Coastal Programme focusing on the shorebird monitoring project.