Alanna REBELO, Master of Science in Conservation Ecology (South Africa)

Alanna Jane REBELO

Alanna holds a Master of Science in Conservation Ecology. In her research, she focuses on understanding wetland function with the aim of quantifying ecosystem services provided to society by these valuable and highly threatened water bodies.

Current position: Joint PhD Candidate at the Ecosystem Management Research Group (ECOBE) University of Antwerp, Belgium and Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Research Focus: Ecosystem services, valley-bottom wetlands, plant functional traits, ecosystem functioning

To investigate the impact of land-use change on the flow of wetland ecosystem goods and services, she is combining several disciplines, such as hydrology, ecology and sociology. Alanna has served as an ambassador for the initiative “Living Lands”, which aims to make ecosystem research applicable to stakeholders on the ground.

She received a Green Talent award in 2011, after impressing the jury with her interdisciplinary approach to addressing sustainability challenges such as the conservation of biodiversity. Alanna also benefited from her research stay at the renowned German Aerospace Center (DLR), where she learned more about hyperspectral remote-sensing techniques, useful for her doctoral research and future career.

2014 Awarded EUROSA Scholarship to pursue her doctoral studies in Belgium
2013 Awarded GreenMatter fellowship for research in sustainability, South Africa

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2011):

Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Research focus: Conservation Ecology

Ms Rebelo, who was awarded a class medal for her work on inland water systems, wants to use her research to encourage sustainable agriculture and improve water security via appropriate land use and the removal of invasive alien plants.

Alanna Rebelo believes that interdisciplinary research in science and technology is the best hope for improving the efficiency of global resource use, most importantly that of energy and water. Towards that end, she is combining several disciplines as part of her graduate-level studies. These include hydrology, ecology and sociology, and she is collaborating with economists. She is investigating the impact of land-use change on the flow of ecosystem goods and services in a master's thesis entitled "Hydrological Benefits of Restoration for the Delivery of Ecosystem Services".

The young scientist is an ambassador for an initiative of the Dutch government called "Living Lands", which aims to make research applicable by establishing markets for payments for ecosystem services in catchments. Her project was funded by the Water Research Commission of South Africa, and she was selected to present her research findings at the International Association of Landscape Ecology Conference in Beijing, China, in August.

Ms Rebelo's application impressed the jury because of her interdisciplinary approach to addressing sustainability challenges such as conservation of biodiversity while increasing capacities for human development, for example in agriculture. The jury said she "walks the talk" by contributing to a better environment for a better society. Jury member Professor Klaus Töpfer said, "I congratulate the organisers of the 'Green Talents'-Programme for such outstanding, highly promising young awardees."

Ms Rebelo, who plans to continue her studies at the doctoral level in 2012, is looking forward to her stay in Germany so that she can become more familiar with the country's network of organisations focused on sustainability. "The tours of companies and institutions that have been highlighted for their 'best practices' in sustainability will give me a unique opportunity to bring ideas, innovations and inspiration back to my country and strengthen collaborative ties with overseas institutions for my PhD studies," she said.