stands for:
Participatory Restoration of Ecosystem SErvices & Natural Capital, Eastern Cape.

PRESENCE is a learning network which acts as a multi-stakeholder platform for: catalysing capacity building initiatives; guiding transdisciplinary social-ecological research; and supporting implementation (best management practices) aimed at restoring ‘living landscapes’ in South Africa.

The shared vision of the PRESENCE network is to ensure:

  • Rigorous transdisciplinary research to address critical knowledge into restoration strategies;
  • Best Management Practices (BMP) for natural resource and ecosystem management
  • Stakeholder-driven participatory approaches
  • Socio-economically acceptable in supporting local livelihoods and cultural traditions
  • Ecologically sound by maximising ecosystem integrity and biodiversity outcomes
  • Financially sustainable through innovative reward mechanisms for ecosystem management
  • Institutionally feasible through good governance, community-based learning & social change
  • Local capacity building through the mainstreaming of restoration processes.

This PRESENCE approach is currently being piloted in the Baviaanskloof Mega-Reserve through the collaborative research-implementation programme: PRESENCE in the Baviaanskloof. The overall objective of the ongoing programme of work is to:

Guide the social-ecological restoration of ‘living landscapes’ across the
Baviaanskloof Mega-Reserve.

This Baviaanskloof initiative is joint partnership primarily funded through the Dutch Government’s Water for Food & Ecosystems Programme with contributions from Wageningen University’s Ecosystem & Landscape Services Programme (SELS),  South African Government’s Department of Water Affairs (Working for Water) and Gamtoos Irrigation Board.


  • South African Department of Water Affairs & the Environment (DWAE/Working for Water);
  • Dutch Ministry for Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality (LNV);
  • Dutch Government Service for Land and Water Management (DLG);
  • Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR);
  • South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI/Working for Wetlands);
  • Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD);
  • Gamtoos Irrigation Board;
  • Eastern Cape Parks;
  • WWF-SA;
  • Restoration Research Group (R3G);
  • German Aerospace Agency (DLR);
  • Subtropical Thicket Restoration Programme (STRP/Working for Woodlands);
  • Wageningen University (with Alterra and the Ecosystem & Landscape Services Programme (SELS))
  • Rhodes University;
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University;
  • Stellenbosch University;
  • Pretoria University;
  • ASSET;
  • For Elements
  • David and Handa Zeller for the generous use of their Baviaanskloof cottage as a field research base


Living Lands (PRESENCE Facilitators):

PRESENCE Learning Network Website: