Biodiversity and its pattern and associated processes shape the ecological systems around us. Intact ecosystems provide a range of ecosystem services to people and other elements of the environment and buffer the socio-ecological system from global change and stochastic catastrophic events. Effective understanding and management of biodiversity and ecosystems is critical for ensuring the continued supply of these services and enhancing the resilience of both the environment and vulnerable communities. 

The Ecosystems thematic area works with government agencies, landowners and businesses to provide evidence and evidence based tools for understanding and managing ecosystems in a way that builds resilience, contributes to poverty reduction and facilitates sustainable green growth. We work in a number of strategic focus areas:

Biodiversity and ecosystem services

The biodiversity and ecosystem services focus area explores linkages between biodiversity and ecosystem services, and assesses how global change affects ecosystems, their services and human well-being.

The INR has extensive experience in a range of tools and methodologies relating to biodiversity and ecosystem services including:

    • Mapping of supply and demand for ecosystem services
    • Systematic conservation planning,
    • Ecological assessments and social surveys.


In our water scarce country, there is an urgent need to improve the way that society interacts with water.

The INR has broad experience working into water resources, including:

    • Water resources and catchment management
    • Aquatic ecology and river health
    • Wetland delineation and functional assessments
    • Utilization of water resources by society.

Environmental information systems

Increasingly, information systems support the work of organisations involved in environmental management and research, and there is a growing need to generate and store data which can be used to produce better and more accurate information.

Excellent Record

The INR has an excellent record in the use and development of environmental information systems and in using particularly spatial information to generate tools for use in the environmental sector.

  • Geographic information systems,
    • Mapping
    • Geo-referencing
    • Spatial analysis
  • Web mapping applications
  • Decision support systems
  • Database and geo-database development


  • Aquatic and terrestrial ecological assessments
  • Assessing linkages between biodiversity, ecosystem services and livelihoods
  • Identifying critical ecosystem service areas requiring protection and/or restoration
  • Mapping the distribution and flow of ecosystem services
  • Determining the response of ecosystems and their provision of services to environmental change
  • Incorporating ecosystem services into planning tools and monitoring programs.
  • Incorporating ecosystem services science into policy and planning processes

Our Current Projects

The Institute is currently involved in various projects across the country. Please view list below for more information regarding our projects.

Our Recent Projects

The Institute has been involved in various projects across the southern Africa. Please view list below for more information regarding our projects.