Using satellite images, Glenn Moncrieff, a data scientist at the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), captured this mind-blowing 10-year transformation as alien trees were removed to make way for critically endangered sand fynbos.
The images come from project Fynbos Node, which monitors fynbos rehabilitation in the Western Cape.
The Cape Floral Region, one of six declared floral kingdoms in the world, contains almost 9,000 plant species, and of these, two-thirds are found nowhere else.
Using a programme called Planet, Moncrieff can access satellite imagery going as far back as 2009 to give scientists reliable long- term data for their research.
“Planet’s satellite data has a great way of helping people visualise the impact of humans on the environment. It goes deeper for scientists. The satellites capture information we can’t see, like infrared, which as a scientist can help us tell how healthily a forest is, or unhealthy,” he says.
SAEON is body established by the Department of Science and Technology to conduct long term observation and promote an informed and timely response to global change.
“Science has been grappling for years with translating information into something the public can relate to," says Moncrieff. But now we have the tools to get people interested in our work. Once you have the interest, you can get people to start listening to the insights, and then get people to know about your research. That’s what we are trying to do here.”
Here are some more incredible environmental transformations Moncrieff has captured:
The multiyear drought in the south-west of Africa has affected more towns than just Cape Town. This two-year time lapse shows the dam running dry in two consecutive summers.
Communities downstream face increasing flood risk due to the removal of sand. Hundreds of these mines can be spotted along rivers in rural KZN.
Mining has stalled since 2017 following a court challenge. The mine hopes to restart operations in 2019.
Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) clears dune forests to mine titanium in a global biodiversity hotspot. While intensive restoration of deforested areas is undertaken, many species will never return.
The MeerKAT is a precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
Also from Business Insider South Africa: