Master of Natural Resources Management graduate - Vistorina Amputu

Brief: NUST Student Research Symposium Best presenter

Tell us about yourself (i.e. what you are studying, year of study etc). I am Vistorina Amputu, a recent (14 October 2016) Master of Natural Resources Management graduate, from the Namibia University of Science and Technology. I did my undergraduate at the University of Namibia in the faculty of Science and acquired a BSc. Honours) degree in Environmental Biology (major) and Geology (minor). I am currently a part-time lecturer for the Department of Biological Sciences at UNAM.

You participated in the NUST Student Research Symposium held on 21 October 2016. Please tell us about your research and why it was important to conduct the research? The research looked at understanding how fire history and frost affect vegetation structure and species composition in a semi-arid savanna woodland in at the Waterberg Plateau Park. Some of the main findings were: fire has a positive effect on forage for both grazers and browsers. The perennial grasses are highly nutritious after a fire and the findings also suggest an increase in their productivity. Woody plants are top killed to browsable heights and this also results in more open savanna woodland. The research was important to conduct as it narrows the gap of fire research in Namibia and increases our understanding of fires in a more arid + dystrophic savanna. Findings from the study will also be made available to the Waterberg Plateau Park management in the form of a fire management booklet.

What is the relevance of your research to national development? Fires are inevitable in savannas, thus it's important to understand their effects on biodiversity and ecosystem processes. The research was conducted in a national park that conserves some of our beautiful rare and endangered animals. Tourism is one of the main sectors contributing to Namibia's economy, and that depends on our natural resources (health of the environment). Research therefore provides sound and fact based information that is important for decision making.

You emerged as the winner in the Category of Best Presenter. What does this mean to you? It was a delightful and humbling moment when I won best student presentation. To me, it means that I was able to convey my research in such a way that even someone in the audience who thought "it's a complicated research topic" could understand and learn something from it. I think that's the ultimate end goal of research, disseminating one's findings. I am also grateful that I was given the opportunity to present at such a platform (a great initiation) and highlight some of the aspects of Natural resources management.

Any last remarks to students on research?Research is an important component that provides understanding of various aspects, findings and even solutions to problems. It allows decision and policy makers to make evidence based decisions instead of thumb sucking them. My message of encouragement to students doing research or that are to embark on this journey is that they should do research in something that they are passionate about, something that contributes to society/ national development/ scientific body and especially something that addresses the major challenges that our country faces such as climate change.

Success quote! Neil Armstrong once said "Research is creating new knowledge" Lameck Amugongo at the Student Research Symposium said "Information depends on data and we cannot have data without conducting research".