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Throughout his academic career, Heinz Beckedahl has worked tirelessly for the advancement of geomorphology in southern Africa. His career began in the teaching profession in the late ‘70’s and his first Lectureship appointment was at (then) University of Transkei (now WSU) in 1986. Heinz later moved to the University of Natal (now KZN) where he progressed to Associate Professor in physical geography and now serves as Professor at the University of eSwatini.


Heinz Beckedahl has published widely in the field of applied geomorphology. This includes 35 peer-reviewed articles, 6 books or edited works and 10 book chapter contributions, and numerous professional reports and site evaluations. His doctoral work from the 1990’s, published in book form in Germany, remains the seminal work on soil piping in the African sub-continent.

Heinz has served on, convened and organised numerous committees and collaborations both locally and abroad. The most recent of these include members of the Provincial Environmental Advisory Committee (PCEC) for KwaZulu-Natal Province and the national committee on Land Degradation and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) under the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA); as advisor on Land Degradation and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) to the Swaziland Environmental Authority (SEA); and as a member of the South African roster of independent environmental experts of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Heinz also serves on several professional bodies, including:

  • World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (WASWC),

  • Land Rehabilitation Society of Southern Africa (LaRSSA),

  • World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT), and the

  • International Erosion Control Association (IECA),

while retaining ongoing involvement with the SSAG and SAAG. His long-standing influence in the field of geomorphology thus extends both locally and internationally though universities, government departments and NGO’s.


It is Heinz’s involvement in the SAAG that has had a special long-term impact on southern African geomorphologists. Heinz is a founder member of the Association, being closely involved in the formative meeting held at UNITRA in 1988, in the establishment of the Association and serving as first President until 1990. Heinz has continued to support the Association through the years, convening the 2006 biennial meeting in Pietermaritzburg and on several occasions (2000 and 2017, to name two) convened workshops on applied soil erosion that act as outreach to professionals and as training grounds for postgraduate students. The workshop that follows this SAAG2019 Conference is another example.


Heinz has also had a large influence on the postgraduate training in physical geography in southern Africa. He has supervised some 28 Masters theses and 17 Doctoral theses to completion and continues to be very active in this regard at the Universities of eSwatini and Pretoria, where he holds an extraordinary appointment. In fact, four past Presidents of SAAG can trace their supervision, either directly or through their supervisor, to career-degrees first supervised by Heinz Beckedahl.

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