Special Session 1: (Monday 5 September 2022) 

Sierra Standish

Abstract: The Mediterranean-type Ecology Network Oral History Project


The network of scientists who study MTEs–decentralized but enduring–is a half-century old. The MTE Network Oral History Project aims to capture some of these last fifty years. Specifically, the project aspires to use recorded, one-on-one interviews to elicit and preserve important facts, stories, and perspectives. The workshop will further explain the project’s goals, process, archival plan and ethical considerations.

The aim of the MTE Network Oral History Project is twofold: to capture and preserve important memories and institutional history shortly after the fifty-year mark in the history of MEDECOS, and to contribute to the research for a dissertation project on the history of international mediterranean-type ecology. At the September meeting, I plan to interview three to six important long-term participants in MEDECOS. The selection of interviewees and the design of questions and topics will be conducted in cooperation with the conference planning committee. That said, central areas of inquiry are 1) individual career trajectories, 2) evolutionary theory and/or other themes that guided scientific projects and 3) engagement with conservation.

Ethical Considerations: Interviews will be planned and conducted in accordance with the principles and best practices established by the U.S.-based Oral History Association (OHA). https://www.oralhistory.org/principles-and-best-practices-revised-2018/ This includes ensuring that interviewees (also known as narrators) 1) provide informed consent and 2) permit the recording, storage, and dissemination of the interview content. Relevant forms will be developed in cooperation with the conference planning committee and the archival institution. In recent years, it has been determined that oral history does not qualify for approval through the conventional Institutional Review Board (IRB) process. This determination is grounded, in part, in the uniqueness of each oral history interview; oral history material does not contribute to “generalizable knowledge” but rather contains very specific, personal information. For more, please visit the OHA’s “Information about IRBs” page: https://www.oralhistory.org/information-about-irbs/. I am happy to engage in conversation about how to think about the ethical considerations of this project.

Archival Plan: Again, this will be conducted with the specific guidance of the Oral History Association: https://www.oralhistory.org/archives-principles-and-best-practices-overview/

I take as a model the Ecological Society of America Oral History Collection. https://sclfind.libs.uga.edu/sclfind/view?docId=ead/RBRL416ESA.xml;brand=default

In-person interviews will be conducted and recorded by Sierra Standish, a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Interviews will happen either indoors or outdoors, will last approximately 1 to 2 hours (to flex with the availability and interest of participants), and will be recorded using .wav format. Later, these recordings will be transcribed. Then, both the recording and the transcription will be donated to the most appropriate archival institution.


Special Session 2: Short Film and Networking session (Tuesday 6 September 2022)


The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust: Celebrating 10 years of Renosterveld Conservation

Workshop organiser: Odette Curtis & Grant Forbes; info@overbergrenosterveld.org.za

Keywords: Renosterveld, Conservation Easements, Haarwegskloof, Field Guide

The Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust was established in 2012 to address the dire status of renosterveld habitats in the Overberg. Most lowland renosterveld vegetation types are listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered, with an average of less than 5% remaining, due to severe levels of transformation for monoculture crops. In this short film, we celebrate 10 years of renosterveld conservation in the Overberg and most importantly, the >4500 ha of renosterveld that is now conserved in perpetuity. This was made possible by the establishment Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve, owned by WWF-SA and managed by the ORCT and ii) convincing key landowners in the Overberg wheat-belt of the value of their renosterveld remnants and watercourses, and then building partnerships with them through our Conservation Easement Programme which has secured 20 easements to date. The ORCT manages these sites with the aim to restore and maintain long-term ecological integrity, while negotiations for new easements are always ongoing. In addition to this, the ORCT established a Visitor and Research Centre at Haarwegskloof and lead the publication of the first-ever Field Guide to Renosterveld (of the Overberg). We have made some great inroads into the conservation of our unique, biodiversity-rich lowland habitats, but we still have much work ahead. We invite Fynbos Forum / MEDECOS attendees to celebrate our beautiful renosterveld and enjoy this 15-minute film.