Adaptation to climate change, conservation of biodiversity and restoration of ecosystems are relatively new goals for humankind.

A pioneering, innovative approach is essential. This, however, needs to be tempered by rigorous scientific research, learning from experience and then adjusting interventions accordingly. C4 specialises in undertaking such research and adaptive management. We advocate firstly an experimental approach for all interventions implemented within a project and secondly the ultimate publication of results emanating from the interventions in the peer-reviewed literature. Importantly, failed interventions should be documented as rigorously as successful interventions. This is because the results from both types of interventions should provide the evidence-base for future decisions on adapting to climate change, conserving biodiversity or restoring ecosystems.

Department of Soil Science, Stellenbosch University, 2003–Current.

Anthony Mills, the founder and CEO of C4 EcoSolutions, is also Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Soil Science, University of Stellenbosch, where he undertakes primary research on soil chemistry and ecology. Anthony regularly publishes in the peer-reviewed academic literature on a wide range of topics, including soil chemistry, ecology, ecosystem restoration, climate change adaptation and carbon sequestration.

Research projects

Natural Soil Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services Assessments

Client: Natural Resource Management Programme, Department of Environmental Affairs, Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 2015–2017

•   Determine the influence of soil chemistry on woody plant distribution at thirty sites across three biomes, namely fynbos, savanna and grassland.
•  Assess how the results can be used to better manage alien plant invasions in the fynbos and bush encroachment in savannas and grasslands.
•  Investigate the factors influencing survivorship of spekboom cuttings in restoration operations in subtropical thicket.

The effects of soil chemistry on the distribution of grasslands in New South Wales, Australia

Funder: National Research Foundation, Pretoria, South Africa
Duration: 2013–2016

Given that trees predominate over large parts of Australia, including regions with less than 300 mm mean annual rainfall, it is surprising that treeless grasslands occur in relatively mesic climates in eastern Australia. Soil nutrient concentrations are being examined in these treeless grasslands and adjacent woodlands. The objective is to assess whether soil chemistry is a strong factor influencing the distribution of the grasslands.

Effects of nutrients on competition between grasses and trees.

Funder: National Research Foundation, Pretoria, South Africa
Duration: 2013–2016

A hydroponic experiment is being run at the Department of Agronomy, Stellenbosch University, to establish the effects of nutrients on competition between Pennisetum clandestinum  and  Acacia karroo.

“ In collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs, C4 EcoSolutions is exploring the relationship between soil properties and vegetation structure in three biomes of South Africa (fynbos, grassland and savanna). This research will be used to inform decision-making and planning within the Natural Resource Management Programmes (NRMP), and general land use across the country. ”

Alice McClureSenior Climate Change and Environmental Consultant