Marc Stalmans, PhD.
Director of Scientific Services
My parents are from Belgium, but I was born and grew up in the Congo in Central Africa. When I was 15, my family moved to back Belgium where I finished high school and went on to university. After earning a degree as a forestry engineer and completing a post-graduate year in tropical animal health and production, I emigrated to South Africa in 1984. Since then, I’ve worked in nature conservation organizations and completed a MSc. in Botany and a PhD in Landscape Ecology. My wife, Dora, and I have two children - Etienne who is 25 and Marlise who is 23. Dora has been teaching business studies and arts for many years but is currently doing her own creative thing.
Since 2001 I have been working as an independent consultant in conservation. In 2006, I was asked to assess the carrying capacity for herbivores of the new sanctuary in Gorongosa. This led to several other studies over the years, including a landscape map of the Park. At the beginning of 2012, I was appointed as the Director of Scientific Services for the Park.
My role is to coordinate the scientific research happening in the Park, both by our team and by other scientists and students. The results of these studies are used to guide the management of the Park both in the short and the long-term. We are a small division but we interact with many other scientists and students, from Mozambique and further afield. I also advise on tourism planning by using information we gather on the ecology and biodiversity of the Park to enhance tourism while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. Another priority is to document the tremendous biodiversity of the Park, an effort that will be enhanced by the new research center that is being built in Chitengo to host visiting scientists.
Having been involved in the restoration project since 2006, I’ve come to appreciate the tremendous dynamism in Gorongosa and in the conservation project. Nature itself is making an astounding comeback! The Park and its wildlife are hugely productive. Gorongosa is also an extraordinarily diverse national Park, encompassing a wide range of habitats from the peaks of Mount Gorongosa to the basin of Lake Urema.
It is a great project to be involved in because as a team we believe in what we are doing. I am looking forward to further growth in the Park – its conservation, the benefits of tourism, bettering the standard of living and health of surrounding communities, and our own staff’s personal and professional development.