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The INR is an applied research organisation. We are the preferred knowledge provider, strategic and operational supporter, capacity developer, and advocate for the natural resource and environmental management sectors in southern Africa.

In partnership with government, civil society, the private sector and other leading research organisations we develop cutting edge solutions to and support the resolution of natural resource challenges; we provide advice to practitioners, researchers and policy makers; we integrate effort; we build the capacity of graduate professionals to operate effectively in the workplace; and we advocate an environmentally secure future for all. We are an independent, non-profit, public benefit organisation committed to serving the people of southern Africa.

Organisationally our work is arranged into a series of interlinked thematic areas:

  • Adaptation and Resilience
  • Ecosystems
  • Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods
  • Environmental Governance and Sustainability

Themes are led by well-qualified and highly experienced professionals. In addition we are supported by a competent and experienced administrative team. We comprise a staff of twenty-nine people and are located in a precinct of three historic homes surrounded by an indigenous garden adjacent to the campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  We achieve Tier 2 status under the new BBBEE codes.

Our staff are partners in our business, not just employees. We care for each other and demonstrate this care. We afford all staff the opportunity to grow. We expect exceptional performance and reward it appropriately.  We do the same for and expect the same of our partners, clients, customers and suppliers. We operate on the basis of earned trust and mutual respect. We are committed to capacity development and currently host seven interns who we fund largely from our own resources. We also host four post-graduate students

The services we supply, across southern Africa, include but are not limited to:

  • Applied research in natural resources, environmental management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, agriculture, sustainable livelihoods and rural development
  • Strategic and operational support for sectoral and multidisciplinary implementation programmes
  • Support of both public and private policy development
  • Specialist studies across the spectrum of socio-ecological systems
  • Environmental assessment and reporting at various scales
  • Development of natural resource and agriculturally focused institutional and governance systems
  • Land-use assessment, and land-use and conservation planning
  • Customised education, training and capacity development in all aspects of our work
  • Developing and supporting the implementation of geographic, ecological and sectoral information management systems
  • Innovative stakeholder engagement and consultation
  • Monitoring of various environmental parameters

The Institute of Natural Resources is a registered Non-profit Organisation (028-756-NPO) and Public Benefit Organisation (18/11/13/44/94).

The INR is a member of the IUCN (Membership No. NG/672) IUCN member


– Highlights –

South African Society of Geographers (SSAG) Student Conference

Congratulations to Adwoa who won the Best Masters Poster award at this years’ South African Society of Geographers (SSAG) Student Conference in Stellenbosch held on 23 – 25 September 2016!

Her poster was entitled “Developing an approach for using existing wetland assessment tools to determine the rehabilitation potential of wetlands for improving water quality in the Baynespruit Catchment, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal”.  Salona Reddy and Samiksha Singh also attended the conference and can be seen below with their posters.


Adwoa Awuah


Salona Reddy


Samiksha Singh











21st Annual IAIAsa National Conference 2016

The INR was well represented at the IAIAsa 2016 National Conference held on 17 – 19 August, the Boardwalk, Port Elizabeth.

This year’s theme was: “ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE & CHALLENGES: Resilience, Adaptation & Sustainability” promise to encompass:

  • Adapting and responding to environmental change
  • Energy and sustainability
  • Regulating for environmental change
  • The role of business in integrated environmental management
  • The future of sustainable development

The conference was attended by Dianne Sennoga, Samiksha Singh and Kusasalthu Sithole.

Kusas Sithole

Kusasa Sithole


Kusasalethu Sithole – intern and masters student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal – officially launches the IAIAsa Student Mentorship Programme (ISMP) at the IAIAsa 2016 National Conference.




Samiksha Singh, Kusasa Sithole, Dianne Sennoga

Samiksha Singh, Kusasa Sithole, Dianne Sennoga.

– Press Release –

INR Supports Launch of Exciting Water Research Partnership

9 February 2016

The uMngeni River Basin is our collective life-blood – we rely on its water for our homes and businesses; we irrigate our crops; we collect food and medicinal plants from its wetlands; we marvel at its beauty; we worship along its river banks, and we paddle, boat, fish and swim in its rivers, streams and dams.

In the river basin our understanding of the system’s hydrology and ecology is good. Also, our capacity to capture water from the system, process it and harness it for our needs is considerable. And yet we find ourselves in a situation which is, quite frankly, a mess. Water quality is poor and deteriorating; water wastage is high; alien invasive plants run rampant; natural flows are disrupted; human and ecological health is compromised; regulatory enforcement is weak; rural residents are regularly deprived of equitable access to the resource, and we are inadequately prepared to deal with the current drought. In short we are constantly compromising the very life-blood that sustains us.

The source of many of the problems we face does not lie in failures of our natural or engineered systems; it resides in failures of governance – the failure of our political, social, economic and administrative systems that influence water resource planning, use and management. While our individual and collective understanding of these issues under the umbrella of water resource governance is growing and good knowledge is being generated, there is very little to indicate that this knowledge is reaching and influencing the intended users.  Also, there is a need to fundamentally increase social sciences and others to engage with the issues. Finally, individual researchers in the uMngeni are currently not unified around a common research agenda.

With this in mind a group of social and natural scientists gathered recently to plot a way forward. The main aim was to get to know each other better and learn about relevant projects that currently are undertaken by the researchers. The intended outcome of the get-together was to establish a common identity and identify key research needs and key partners as well as to establish a basis for collaboration and by that to begin the process of establishing a shared research agenda.

For our first session – a one and a half day workshop at the Institute – we created a ‘safe space’ in order to meet our aims and thus, limited participation to researchers rather than practitioners and managers. Participants included colleagues from the CSIR, the Institute of Natural Resources, Monash South Africa, South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Urban Earth and the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA); there were twenty people in all. While other organisations and individuals are also operating in this space the group does represent a large portion of the water research effort focused on the uMngeni River Basin.

The workshop was a great success and has left the attendees with much enthusiasm, and many ideas and tasks. Researchers were able to get to know each other at a personal and professional level. Of particular interest was that at least seven participants were engaged in doctoral research. The range of interests was considerable and was not confined to research. It included direct support for management efforts, capacity development of key stakeholders such as municipal officials and traditional leaders, and a large body of research attempting to unpack the river basin as a social-ecological system.

We achieved to establish a common identity under the banner of the ‘uMngeni School of Water Governance Research’ linked to the already well recognised uMngeni Ecological Infrastructure Partnership. Recognising that the creation of knowledge is an ongoing interaction between all stakeholders we were able to identify a broad range of potential research partners and key stakeholders. These ranged from civil society, through NGOs and the private sector to various spheres of government.

Finally the uMngeni School of Water Governance Research established the foundations for a common research agenda, creating a short-term ‘to-do’ list, and assigning roles and responsibilities – watch this space!

A woman from the Quarry Rd informal settlement washing clothes at the polluted Palmiet Stream – a governance failure

A woman from the Quarry Rd informal settlement washing clothes at the polluted Palmiet Stream – a governance failure

Increasing pollution levels in the Msunduzi River at Pietermaritzburg – a governance failure

Increasing pollution levels in the Msunduzi River at Pietermaritzburg – a governance failure