Change the world

Research Chair: Marine Spatial Planning (MSP)


Mandy Lombard

Professor Amanda Lombard

Primary discipline: Biological Sciences

Faculty: Science

Biosketch of Chair incumbent

Professor Lombard was awarded the Purcell Memorial Prize for the best zoological Ph.D. at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1989. After post-doctoral work in the USA and Australia, she held academic positions at UCT, NMMU, and the University of Pretoria. She specialises in conservation planning, and has also worked as a consultant in this field for 18 years.

Her early work advanced conservation planning research in South Africa and was instrumental in establishing it as a necessary step in policies to expand and proclaim both terrestrial and marine protected areas. In 2004 she pioneered South Africa’s marine conservation planning research and assessments. She is frequently invited to international workshops to advance conservation planning globally, and has supervised many post-graduate students, published 47 peer-reviewed scientific papers, 1 book chapter, and 43 consultancy reports. In 2013, Thomson Reuters listed her as one of the 6 most cited ecologists in South Africa. She has an NRF C1 rating for her research and an H-index of 25.

She is an editor of the Journal Conservation Letters and a board member of the Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology. She has a special interest in animal welfare and ethics and sits on national and international ethics committees.


Relevance of research

In 2014 Operation Phakisa was launched to “unlock the economic potential of South Africa’s Oceans”. Phakisa identified MSP as a key initiative to support marine protection, and to provide a legislative framework to promote the rational use of the ocean, while not compromising its ecosystem-based services. Prof. Lombard’s work is directly relevant because it focuses on marine conservation assessments and plans, and she conducts applied research that can be implemented for effective conservation outcomes. For example, she led South Africa’s first marine National Biodiversity Assessment and she designed the Prince Edward Islands Marine Protected Area in the Southern Ocean. She also acts as a conservation planning advisor to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Current research interests

MSP has emerged internationally as the recommended approach to implementing integrated management of coastal and ocean areas, and is linked to ecosystem-based management and the ecosystem approach to fisheries. However, there is no MSP capacity in research, teaching or policy development in South Africa and Professor Lombard’s research aims to address these gaps. Her research focuses on five themes:

  • Strategic strengthening and analysis of knowledge on the spatial and seasonal distribution of marine biodiversity features in coastal, benthic and pelagic environments
  • Evaluation of ecosystem services (ecological infrastructure) and development of accounting techniques for the marine environment
  • Sourcing and collating available baseline biodiversity information to evaluate marine management strategies
  • Development of predictive spatial models of the outcomes of environmental, and anthropogenic, drivers of change in the marine environment
  • Use of outputs from themes 1 to 4 in a MSP framework to inform policy and management
  • Her research is highly collaborative and she works closely with South African colleagues (particularly Drs Kerry Sink, Jean Harris, Sven Kerwath, Linda Harris, Stephen Holness, Prof. Colin Attwood) as well as many international collaborators.