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South Africa's National Research Foundation has launched a major study of long-term environmental changes, including climate patterns, and how they affect natural resources and the communities that rely on them.

The main task of the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) will be to produce reliable and accessible information on the environment. Its results will be used to draw up guidelines for sustainable development. One of its focuses will be addressing environmental degradation seen on community land but absent in protected areas. The researchers will also study the Olifants River, which has been heavily affected by local industries and settlements — with downstream effects in the Kruger National Park and Mozambique.

The Department of Science and Technology will fund SAEON with an annual budget of five million rand (US$780,000). As well as undertaking research, SAEON will train postgraduate researchers and conduct environmental science education in schools.

Link to full Independent Online news story

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