Celebrating Women in Conservation: Chanel Rampartab

by CapeNature

August is Women’s Month and we are sharing the stories of some of the special women at CapeNature who have a passion for people and our shared natural heritage.

Meet Chanel Rampartab, Conservation Innovation Manager at CapeNature.

Q What exactly is a conservation innovation manager?

My job is to implement innovative solutions to augment our conservation efforts in the landscape and bring CapeNature to the forefront of conservation best practice. For example, my team and I are busy rolling out a centralised knowledge hub to streamline work planning and reporting at a corporate scale. This will make it easier to identify gaps and leverage strategic partnerships so that the sector can work more collaboratively. On the horizon, we will be introducing exciting new data collection and analysis methods like UAVs and AI to bolster our capacity.

Q What was your background before you started your current job at CapeNature?

A After my Master’s degree, I worked as a researcher for a fisheries management consultancy that also developed software to enable sustainable fishing. Almost two years later, I was excited to start at CapeNature as a Stewardship Conservation Services Officer in Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve (Robertson). I was based there for only two months before moving to a permanent position as a Land Use Advice Scientist. Another year and a half went by, and I am now proudly the Conservation Innovation Manager.

Q Please describe your typical day?

A My typical day involves working towards improving the way we achieve our higher-level conservation outcomes. I’m presently working on various strategies to guide our work for the next five years, as well as developing a centralised knowledge hub to aid us in decision-making and strategic adaptive management so that we can measure the effectiveness of our approach.

Q What is your favourite part of the job?

A The best part of my job is exploring innovative ideas that are emerging and maturing in the conservation arena. I get to think about how to change the way we work using new technology, concepts, practices and processes, and develop strategic partnerships with key role players.

Q What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?

A Getting people out of their comfort zones to think about how to make long-term changes in their ways of working (as individuals, as an organisation, and as a sector).  In a world where habitats and species are disappearing in the blink of an eye, we must be dynamic and responsive to new solutions so we can influence conservation across all sectors and stakeholders. Conservation is no longer a binary state!

Q Which achievement are you most proud of?

A Being appointed in a senior management role at CapeNature is a great achievement, especially as a young woman of colour.

Q How have things changed since you started your job?

A Having been recently appointed (three months), the biggest change for me is learning how to transition from working mostly independently, to giving strategic direction to both my team and the organisation as a whole. I have always been a big-picture thinker, and I am now getting to implement that in my day job!

Q What makes it extra special as a woman to work in conservation?

A Over the past few years, women have been featuring more prominently in this otherwise primarily male-dominated sector. Today, CapeNature is 46% female, and that percentage continues to rise.

Q What type of technology do you use in the course of your work?

Keeping up to date with the coolest emerging and maturing technologies that we could roll out to bolster our conservation efforts. Things like AI, data mining and real-time satellite imagery give us more analytical power and on-the-ground presence than ever before, and I am excited to be part of this movement with CapeNature.

Q What advice would you have for a young person who wants to follow in your footsteps?

A I grew up watching nature documentaries and playing with any creature I could find in the garden – this set the foundation for my deep appreciation and respect for nature. Even as a young child, I had decided that my career would be in conservation, and I stood by it, despite the social pressures to choose a more traditional profession. My advice: be strong minded, keep learning, and help others value conservation in the same way you do.

Thank you for sharing those fascinating insights on how innovation and technology is transforming conservation management Chanel.

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