For nature and livelihoods

About us

The Arid Zone Ecology Forum (AZEF) is a non-profit organisation that brings partners together to identify problems and find solutions in the arid and semi-arid regions of southern Africa. 

Succulent Karoo  |  Nama-Karoo  |  Savanna  |  Grassland

More than half of southern Africa is either arid or semi-arid. Despite this, these arid regions cover a diversity of ecosystems. As a rough guideline, southern Africa’s “arid zone” includes all areas with a mean annual rainfall of 500 mm or less. The arid zone consists mainly of the Succulent Karoo and Nama-Karoo biomes, as well as small areas of the Savanna and Grassland biomes.

By understanding the threats to this region, we can find solutions to address the threats. Environmental challenges such as erosion, land degradation, plant and animal species extinctions and climate change are among the obstacles. Through research and understanding, we’ve already seen many changes for the better. For example, agricultural and management policies have improved, as has legislation. But there’s still much to do.

A forum for solutions

The Arid Zone Ecology Forum was established in 1985, with the first conference held in Zuurberg in that year. Already then, we focused our attention on finding solutions to the region’s environmental problems. In 2012, AZEF registered as a non-profit organisation (NPO).

Our main research areas are:

  • Agricultural degradation
  • Ecological dynamics and prediction
  • Applied conservation

Our AZEF vision

To provide managers, landowners, researchers and students of the southern African arid zone a platform for networking and sharing information in order to improve the ecological status and livelihoods of dryland communities in the region.

Our mission

AZEF aims to:

  • Foster and coordinate multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional research activities
  • Help identify research priority areas and shortage of skills and expertise at national and regional levels
  • Facilitate information transfer
  • Develop a network of expertise which integrates insight, information, goals and problems of resource managers with those of researchers and educators
  • Build student capacity.

This is achieved by:

  • Organising an annual research and management conference
  • Arranging and facilitating courses and workshops to address specific issues
  • Arranging field trips to sites and areas of special interest
  • Promoting international links
  • Promoting partnerships and collaboration
  • Serving as the go-to-hub of information on matters relating to the arid zone.

Our values

AZEF is comprised of an informal network of people from state, provincial, educational and research institutions, as well as farmers and individuals from the private sector who commit to:

  • Share expertise and knowledge
  • Contribute to research, management and policy direction
  • Establish contact, share common problems and develop solutions within the forum community
  • Keep abreast of research and education developments, both nationally and internationally.

AZEF constitution

Our Constitution was finalised in September 2013. A copy of the AZEF Constitution is available for download.

Join our AZEF community

As a member of the AZEF community, you have access to partners such as yourself, working to protect the arid and semi-arid zone of southern Africa.

Get to know other partners working in the arid zone, and how they can help you. MORE

Share or learn more about study and work opportunities in the arid zone. MORE

Join our annual conference to connect with stakeholders in the arid zone. MORE

Join our emailer to stay in touch with the latest opportunities in the arid zone. MORE

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