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Environmental Sciences and Development

Prof. Sarel Cilliers

Email: Sarel.Cilliers@nwu.ac.za
Phone: +27 18 299 2523

SHORT CV - Prof. Sarel Cilliers

Sarel Cilliers is professor in Plant Ecology in the School of Environmental Sciences and Development at the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus).
After completion of his BSc and BSc Hons degrees and a diploma in Terrain Evaluation, he completed a MSc in Plant Taxonomy in 1990 and a PhD in Plant Ecology in 1998, all at the Potchefstroom University.  Plant community ecology in urban open spaces was the theme of his PhD thesis and for the first time in South Africa, includes the formal syntaxonomy of anthropogenic vegetation.
As researcher in the fields of Plant Taxonomy and Vegetation Science he, since 1991, produced 23 papers in accredited scientific journals, 52 contributions at national and 28 at international conferences, 8 scientific reports and contributed chapters in three books.
Awards include the Compton Prize for the best paper in the South African Journal of Botany for 2000 and the Douw Greef Prize for the best paper for 2001 in the South African Journal for Science and Technology.
He is currently also a NRF-evaluated researcher and receives funding from the NRF for an urban ecological research program with an integrated approach.
He teaches Plant Systematics and Plant Ecology on graduate level and Urban Ecology and Conservation Biology on postgraduate level.
Seventeen MSc students (three from Germany) and five Ph.D. students graduated under his supervision or are currently under his leadership.
He is a member of several scientific societies locally and abroad and served on the Central Committee of the South African Dendrological Society and the Editorial Board of the South African Journal of Botany and currently on the Editorial Board of two international journals, Urban Forestry and Urban Greening and Urban Ecosystems (as associate editor).

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RESEARCH INTERESTS - Prof. Sarel Cilliers

My specific fields of research interest include the diversity of flora and vegetation of the North-West Province; vegetation classification and mapping, ordination and ecological interpretation of natural and disturbed areas; vegetation dynamics of urban open spaces; urban biotope mapping and the application of conservation orientated planning and management programs in urban and natural areas. I also coordinate an urban ecological project in the North-West Province, following an integrated approach between natural and social sciences. The main objectives of this project include the following:

  • Develop a better understanding of the concept of biological diversity and the role of the Convention on Biological Diversity in urban areas. Urban nature conservation should form part of political thinking and must be included in the Long-term Development Objectives (LDO's) Integrated Development Plans (IDP,s) and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA's) used on local and national governmental levels.
  • Co-ordinate opportunities for continuity and envisaged long-term research in urban ecology involving inventory and characterising of habitats as a bench mark for monitoring trends, identification of ecological indicators and state-of-environment reporting. Ecological indicators are required for use in the context of monitoring of ecological change following habitat disturbance, to monitor trends over time, provide early warning systems of environmental degradation or diagnose the cause of an existing problems.
  • Provide opportunities for community involvement in every aspect of the project in the process of nature conservation, restoration and agriculture (urban agriculture increases food security) in urbanised and settled areas. Programs will also be developed that improve the ecological literacy of students, general public and decision makers. 
  •   Collaborate in achieving the objectives of Sub-programme 4 (Remediation and sustainable management of ecosystems) of the School of Environmental Sciences and Development of the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) by investigating ecological aspects of ecosystems in disturbed or managed areas to eventually restore or rehabilitate them in a sustainable manner, increasing the quality of life for people living in those areas, and also focusing on poverty alleviation amongst the poorest of the poor.


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Peer-reviewed journal papers
CILLIERS, S.S., MÜLLER, N. & DREWES, E.  2004.  Overview on urban nature conservation: situation in the western-grassland biome of South Africa. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 3: 49-62.
DREWES, J.D. & CILLIERS, S.S.  2004.  Integration of urban biotope mapping in spatial planning. Town and Regional Planning 47: 15-29
BARBOUR, M.G., SOLOMESHCH, A., HOLLAND, R.F.,  WITHAM, C.W.,  MACDONALD, R.,  CILLIERS, S.S., MOLINA, J.A., BUCK, J &.HILLMANN, J.  2005.  Vernal pool vegetation of California: communities of long-inundated deep habitats. Phytocoenologia 35 (2-3): 177-200.
CILLIERS, S.S., & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  2003. Vegetation of inland endorheic salt pans in the North-West Province, South Africa.   Phytocoenologia 33(2-3): 289-308.
CILLIERS, S.S. & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  2000.  Vegetation of roadside verges on an urbanization gradient in Potchefstroom, South Africa.  Landscape and Urban Planning  46: 217-239.
CILLIERS, S.S. & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  1999.  Analysis of the  spontaneous vegetation of intensively managed urban open spaces in the Potchefstroom municipal area, North West Province, South Africa.  South  African Journal of  Botany 65(1): 59-68.
CILLIERS, S.S. & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  1999.  Ruderal and natural vegetation on vacant lots in the Potchefstroom municipal area, North West Province, South Africa.  South African Journal of Botany 65(2): 163-173.
CILLIERS, S.S., VAN WYK, E. & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  1999.  Urban  nature conservation: vegetation of natural areas in the Potchefstroom municipal area, North West Province, South Africa.  Koedoe:  42(1): 1-30.
CILLIERS, S.S. SCHOEMAN, L.L. & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  1998.  Wetland plant communities in the Potchefstroom municipal area, North West Province, South Africa.  Bothalia 28 (2): 213-229.
CILLIERS, S.S. & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  1998.  Vegetation analysis of railway reserves in the Potchefstroom municipal area, North West Province, South Africa.  South  African Journal of Botany 64 (5): 271-280.

Chapters in books
ABENDROTH, S., CILLIERS S. S., MÜLLER N. 2004. Biotopkartierung in Südafrika, In: Müller, N. (Hrsg.) Biodiversität im besiedelten Bereich – Grundlagen und Beispiele zur Umsetzung des Übereinkommens über die Biologische Vielfalt, Schriftenreihe TLUG, Heft 70/2004
CILLIERS, S.S.  1999.  Vegetation analysis of urban open spaces in Potchefstroom, North West Province, South Africa.  In: Timberlake, J. & Kativu, S. (eds.)  African Plants: Biodiversity, Taxonomy and Uses, pp. 549-562.  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Published conference proceedings
CILLIERS, S.S., WILLIAMS, N.S.G & BARNARD F.J. 2007. Patterns of exotic species invasion in fragmented native grasslands along urban-rural gradients in South Africa and Australia. In: Bunce R.G.H., Jongman R.H.G., Hojas L. & Weel S. (Eds.) 25 Years of Landscape Ecology: Scientific Principles in Practice, Proceedings of the 7th IALE World Congress 8-12 July, Wageningen, The Netherlands, IALE Publication series 4. pp. 205,206. ISBN 978-90-78514-02-2  
CILLIERS, S.S., MATJILA, E.M. & SANDHAM, L.  2007. Urban agriculture utilizing the eco-circle approach in disadvantaged communities in Potchefstroom, South Africa. In: Stewart G., Ignatieva M., Bowring J., Egoz S. & Melnichuk I. (eds.) Globalisation and Landscape Architecture: Issues for Education and Practice, Proceedings of conference held at St Petersburg State Forest Technical Academy, 3-6 June 2007, Polytechnic University Publishing House, St Petersburg, pp. 88-91.  ISBN 5-7422-1535-5.   
CILLIERS, S.S. & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  2000.  Classes of synanthropic vegetation in urban open spaces of Potchefstroom, South Africa.  Proceedings of the 41st Symposium of IAVS (International Association for Vegetation Science), pp. 218-222,  Uppsala, Sweden, 26 July - 1 August 1998.

Selected papers at international conferences
CILLIERS, S.S., BOUWMAN, H., DREWES, J.E. 2005. Ecological heterogeneity: conceptual and practical applications in urban areas of South Africa.  (Invited paper).  90th Annual Meeting of Ecological Society of America (ESA) held jointly with IX International Congress of Ecology (INTECOL), 7-12 August 2005, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
CILLIERS, S.S. 2005. The role of nature in the built environment.  (Keynote address). International conference on meaning and design of nature for the built environment, 24-26 August 2005, Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand.
CILLIERS, S.S., PUTTER, J.N. & MORGENTHAL, T.L.  2003.  Vegetation dynamics of urban biotopes subjected to different management strategies in Potchefstroom.  IALE (International Association of Landscape Ecology) World Congress, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, 13-17 July 2003.
CILLIERS, S.S., BOUWMAN, H., DREWES, J.E., THERON, P.D. &  VAN RENSBURG, L.  2003.  Settled areas in the North-West Province, South Africa: any use for comparative urban ecological research ? International Workshop on Comparative Ecology of Cities and Towns, Melbourne, Australia, 19-22 July 2003.
CILLIERS, S.S., NIEWOUDT, A., MÜLLER, N. & MÜLLER, V.  2000.  Urban vegetation studies in the western Grassland Biome of South Africa as a basis for biotope mapping.  3rd Southern Connection Congress, Lincoln University,  Canterbury, New Zealand.
CILLIERS, S.S. & BREDENKAMP, G.J.  1999.  Urban vegetation studies in Potchefstroom, South Africa and its importance in conservation orientated  planning and management.  42nd Symposium of IAVS (International Association of Vegetation Science),  Bilbao, Spain.


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CONTACT DETAILS - Prof. Sarel Cilliers

Prof. Sarel Cilliers
School of Environmental Sciences and Development
Potchefstroom campus
North-West University
Private Bag X6001
Potchefstroom 2520
South Africa 

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