How Protected Areas, Biodiversity and Agriculture brought Brazil and South Africa together in Angers in July 2018

Summer 2018: Christo Fabricius and Fabio de Oliveira Roque, two members of the steering committee of the CASEST project came to LETG-Angers.

Mobility support for research by the University of Angers: 2018 MIR grant

Thanks to its mobility grants, the University of Angers is fully involved into the dynamic of CASEST. So the 2018 MIR grant (International mobility for research) allowed us to welcome Christo Fabricius et Fabio de Oliveira Roque at the LETG-Angers laboratory between June and August, 2018.

C. Fabricius is an emeritus professor at the university Nelson Mandela (South Africa). As the former head of the Sustainable Research Unit (SRU), he is completely invested in the analysis and the follow-up of the sustainability of anthropic landscapes. His expertise allowed him to integrate “Global Science Team” of the WWF as scientific director in charge of conservation practices.

F. de Oliveira Roque is a professor at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (Brazil). Specialized in community ecology, he is affiliated with the laboratory of ecology and conservation. As the former executive secretary of the biota-MS programme, he forged strong links between research and civil society. Its investment in the PELD Planalto da Bodoquena programme enables it to build bridges between the monitoring of agricultural practices in areas with high biodiversity challenges and the direction of sustainable public policies in the Pantanal area.
The coming of these members of the CASEST steering committee allowed:

  • To make significant progress in building the institutional and scientific partnership between the three universities.
  • To organize meetings between partners to finalize the coherence of scientific approaches.
  • To conduct video interviews that will be integrated into the web document of the CASEST project (under construction). These sequences will provide an educational opportunity to present the scientific challenges of the CASEST project. This web document will be available to all. It will highlight the commitment of the region Pays de la Loire and the University of Angers on the innovative approach of the CASEST group around a major societal theme: the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainability of agricultural landscapes. The chosen medium will also allow to add new content to it throughout the various activities of the CASEST group. The shootings were made thanks to the technical support and advice of the audiovisual unit of the UFR LLHS (Angers university).
  • To organize science writing workshops. In the same dynamics, the first CASEST workshop (December 2017, in Angers) had allowed the publication of an article asking the group’s guiding ideas (Renaud_et_al_2018_TREE)
  • To finalize the scientific and field program of the two post-doctoral researchers newly recruited by the CASEST project: Beatriz Bellón and Julien Blanco.

These young researchers will go to the study fields of the project to conduct their research.

With a remote sensing and spatial modelling profile, Beatriz will focus on the dynamics of changing space use around protected areas (infrastructure, agricultural policy, etc.).

Julien, with a social sciences profile, will focus on the actors’ games and mental maps around the demand for ecosystem services.

Beatriz and Julien’s work aims to highlight the links between loss of ecological and social connectivity and conflicts of use or management of biodiversity.

Although all are located in areas of interfaces between agriculture and biodiversity, the dynamics of the study sites of the CASEST project differ. In addition to the national specificities of biodiversity conservation laws, the past and current history of agricultural fronts are unique. The Brazilian site is characterized by a significant advance over the last three decades of an agricultural model of agribusiness type strongly oriented towards the production of soya, corn, sugar cane and beef cattle. Conversely, in Zimbabwe, the model of family farming and even subsistence is predominant. Moreover, the development of the agricultural sector is less dynamic than in Brazil.

In South Africa, the history of the agricultural landscape is ancient with a mode of development strongly resembling the European model.

The common and fundamental question for the sustainable management of these territories is around the notion of socio-ecological connectivity.

CASEST Workshop (July, 2018 – LETG, Angers)
From left to right: M.C. Schbath, C. Santos, C. Amiot, F. L. Suza, J. Blanco, O. Pays, F. de O. Roque, C. Fabricius, P.C. Renaud, B. Bellón

The 2018 MIR was without context an essential help for the animation of the young CASEST network. Having the possibility of meeting the members of the network in Angers for several weeks is a major asset for the cohesion of the group and the progress of the reflections and the actions on the field.

Following these activities, the CASEST group is scheduled to travel to South Africa in October 2018 to participate in the second “Garden Route Interface Meeting”. This meeting will be an opportunity to present our group and our scientific axes to a wide range of researchers, policy makers and NGOs active on the African continent.


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