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The 2021 Biennial Conference was coordinated by both the Society of South African Geographers (SSAG), and the Southern African Association of Geomorphologists (SAAG). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, neither the SSAG Biennial Conference, originally scheduled for 2020, and the SAAG Biennial Conference, scheduled for 2021, could proceed in-person. The decision was taken to combine forces and to hold a join online conference. This was held online using Zoom from 6-8 September, bringing together topics in human geography, physical geography, and geoinformation science. While different from the normal order of how the conferences are held, both the SSAG and SAAG welcomed working together.

Conference Summary

The Plenary was given by Professor Kepe on Monday morning (6 September). Tuesday morning was set aside for the SSAG Awards. On the final day (8 September), we held a Panel Discussion on how the pandemic has affected our work and professional lives, and what can be done to manage such effects. The conference was also registered with SACNASP for two CPD credits (validation number 2021-0681-001897).

Regardless of the significant change of the online format, the conference, nevertheless, had a varied number of excellent sessions on human geography, physical geography, and geoinformation science, bringing together all areas of geographical sciences. While sessions were designed to run in parallel, with a Human Geography focused session parallel to either a Physical Geography, or GISc session, the online format allowed participants to easily change between these parallel sessions. ​ As an exciting new initiative, we also paired one experienced researcher and one young geomorphologist or young geographer to convene each session. This allowed our young researchers the opportunity to get involved, learn some valuable skills, and to help convene a session.

The conference concluded on Wednesday 8 September with an ceremony where the Best Paper submitted by an emerging or young researcher (ECR) was awarded. IGU’s Young and Early Career Geographers’ Taskforce (IGU-YECG), the Students and New Professionals (SnP), and the Southern African Young Geomorphologists (SAYG) coordinated a Best Paper Award during the conference. Students and new professionals were invited to submit their work for consideration and the 1st and 2nd prizes were sponsored by the IGU-YECG & Society of South African Geographers (SSAG), and SAAG respectively. The 1st prize received a monetary award of R 2,050.00; the 2nd prize a monetary award of R 1,000.00. The conference Program & Book of Abstracts is available here.

During the online biennial general meeting on Friday afternoon (10 September) the new SAAG Council was voted into office. SAAG would like to take this opportunity to thank the previous council consisting of Christel Hansen (UP), Laura Bannatyne (RU), David Hedding (UNISA), Elizabeth Rudolph (UFS), Abuyiselwe Nguna (UFH), and Namso Nyamela for giving their time to serve on the council from 2019-2021. The new council consists of Laura Bannatyne (RU; President), Elizabeth Rudolph (UFS; President-Elect), David Hedding (UNISA; Treasurer), Namso Nyamela (Secretary), and three ordinary members of Sibusiso Sinuka (UFH), Marike Stander (UFS), and Renée Grundling (UP).

​SAAG would like to thank the 2021 Organising Committee consisting of Christel Hansen (University of Pretoria), and Ian Meiklejohn (Rhodes University) for their work on organising such a successful conference. We'd also like to thank the IGU-YECG and Society of South African Geographers (SSAG) who together sponsored R 2,050.00 for the 1st prize in the Best Paper Award; SAAG sponsored the 2nd prize of R 1,000.00. Finally, SAAG would also like to thank Rhodes University for the logistical support given during the conference.

Post-conference Field Excursion

A field-based excursion was held on 24 & 25 September 2021 in the eastern Free State.   The SAAG group was based at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, and had the opportunity to experience the rich geomorphological diversity that the region has to offer.  A summary of the excursion can be found in the link listed below.

Organising Committee & Sponsors

The conference would not have been possible without the dedication and sponsorship of multiple individuals.

Keen to Read More?
Conference Proceedings

The Conference Proceedings were published on 2 November 2022, consisting of 15 original research articles and representing 27 authors from 11 separate institutions. The Proceedings can be accessed here.

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