After completing her master’s degree in environmental science at North-West University, Carina Pienaar started working to conserve the high-altitude grasslands in the eastern Free State and their threatened bird species.
She works closely with landowners to implement biodiversity-friendly land management principles.
“Working with the landowners has led to the declaration of protected areas in the grasslands of approximately 50 000 hectares through biodiversity stewardship — including the Ingula Nature Reserve, Upper Wilge Protected Environment and Sneeuwberg Protected Environment,” says Pienaar.
Her proudest moment was being part of the team that secured Ramsar Wetland international importance status for the Ingula Nature Reserve, as well as declaring the 24 000 hectares of Upper Wilge as a protected environment this year.
“I want to ensure that the grasslands retain their splendour and rich biodiversity, and that agriculture and land use in the grasslands remain sustainable for future generations,” she says.
“I want to ensure that the agricultural meat basket in the Eastern Free State and Northern Drakensberg Strategic Water Source Area will continue to provide food and water security to South Africa.”