University of Stellenbosch/eThekwini Municipality
Bheka Nxele is a South African Ecologist by qualification, with a BSc. Degree in Plant Bio- & Molecular Technology, an Honours Degree in Molecular Biology (University of KwaZulu-Natal), and an MSc. Degree in Conservation Ecology (University of Stellenbosch). He worked as an Ecologist and as a Bioregional Planner, for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (provincial, biodiversity conservation authority), wherein he communicated the significance of the Systematic Conservation Plan information and motivated for its incorporation into municipal Integrated Development Plans and other strategic tools. He developed Biodiversity Sector Plans, drafted Bioregional Plans. Worked in iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, as well as at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, as a Terrestrial Ecologist. He is passionate about the socio-ecological aspects in ecosystem restoration, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Ecosystem Services, as well as resolving human-wildlife conflicts. Presently he is a Project Manager (eThekwini Municipality), responsible for implementation of community-based, large-scale, ecosystem restoration programmes controlling Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and scaling ecosystem restoration. He develops IAS Framework Strategy & Action Plans as well as drafting IAS Management Plans. Bheka is a member of the Sustainable Use and Management of Ecosystems in IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management. He is a Board Member of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Working Group and a Member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Standing Committee at SER, intending to facilitate and inspire diversity, equity, and inclusion in ecosystem restoration across scales. With 23 years of experience, Bheka is currently pursuing a PhD in ecosystem restoration, through the University of Stellenbosch.