Lara Van Niekerk

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I specialise in the physical dynamics of estuaries; estuarine condition assessments; environmental flow requirements; climate change impacts on estuaries; and estuary management and policy. I am part of a core team that developed environmental flow requirements technologies for South Africa, e.g. Version 1, 2 and 3 of the eflows methods for estuaries. I have been involved in over 40 freshwater flow requirement (EFR) studies on estuaries in Southern Africa as project leader  or hydrodynamics / physical process specialist.

I  led the project that developed the desktop assessment of South Africa’s estuaries.I also led the team of specialists the assessed the health and ecosystem condition of all of South Africa’s estuaries as part of the National Biodiversity Assessment 2018 and 2011.

I have played a leading role in defining and delineation the ‘Estuary Functional Zone’ and incorporating it into South African legislation. As well as developing an ‘Estuarine Ecosystem Classification’ for 290 estuaries. I also led the process of pilot testing the IUCN Red Listing of Ecosystems guidelines on South Africa’s estuaries. I also played a lead role in the development of the generic framework for estuary management plans as part of the GEF funded C.A.P.E. Estuaries Programme (2005 - 2010).

I was part of the core team that wrote the Guidelines for the Development and Implementation of Estuarine Management Plans in terms of the National Estuarine Management Protocol for the Department of Environment Affairs in 2015. In addition,  in collaboration with other key scientists, has developed and present the Estuarine Management Training module for South Africa (accredited through Nelson Mandela University), that have trained over 250 practitioners in government and civil society. I also help developed and present the Estuarine Monitoring Couse aimed at particle improvement of South Africa measurement capabilities.

I was also involved in understanding the impact of climate change on estuaries and was the lead author of South Africa’s estuarine chapter in 3de National Communication on Climate Change.

I am author / co-author of 36 papers in national or international journals peer-reviewed and more than 70 scientific reports.

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