The festive period blog post related to the recent volume of Palaeoecology of Africa (published entirely open access online) picks out the four Perspective articles. We included Perspective articles within the volume to place the volume in context and showcase some topical ideas, with the overall objective of stimulating further debate on past environmental change in Africa.
The opening two papers of the volume are both Perspectives. Louis Scott opens the volume with a short history of the Palaeoecology of Africa series. He sketches out the rich and varied history of the publication which, commenced in 1966 as a collection of eight reports (van Zinerden Bakker 1966), includes seven conference proceedings, and has been edited at various times by Eduard Meine van Zinerden Bakker, Joey Coetzee, Klaus Heine and currently Jürgen Runge. The second article, Lézine et al., tracks the rise and revival of the “African Pollen Database” (APD) from its formation in 1996, through to its decline in 2007, and up to its re-initiation in 2019 from which this volume of PoA has sprung. Personally, I think the huge enthusiasm shown to participate in this volume and to contributing to collaborative initiatives like the APD, demonstrate the strength of the field and can only bode well for future research.
The other two Perspective papers showcase nicely some of the motivation behind the enthusiasm for palaeoecological research. Lynne Quick focuses in on the hyper-diverse Cape Floristic Region of southern Africa and what records of past vegetation and climate change can tell us to reveal these origins and assist in the conservation and management of this ecological wonder today. The final perspective, by Lindsey Gillson, rounds off the volume by thinking more broadly about how palaeoecological research can be utilised in the development of conservation policy in Africa. She focuses particularly on how these records can provide insights into drivers of change in the past (climate, fire, and herbivory) and how this can then be used to guide conservation and enrich our understanding how the landscape we see in Africa today came to be.
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