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UKZN Canada Visit Leads to MSc



UKZN Canada Visit Leads to MSc

UKZN Canada Visit Leads to MSc. Ms. Gugulethu Tshabalala journey from an intern project manager at the Duzi-uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) in Pietermaritzburg to a Master degree holder in Environmental Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has been nothing short of inspiring.

Her remarkable achievements and contributions to environmental research, particularly in the context of sustainable land use practices, stand as a testament to her dedication and passion for making a difference.

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Exploring the Impact of Land Use Practices

Under the guidance of Professor Trevor Hill, Gugulethu conducted extensive fieldwork, installing tanks to measure water runoff and quality from grazing land and maize crops. Her findings shed light on the comparative impacts of rangeland and maize cultivation on soil erosion and nutrient loss. Notably, Gugulethu research revealed the minimal runoff from pasture sites, attributing this to the 100% vegetation cover that effectively minimized erosion and nutrient loss.

In contrast, the exposed soil of maize till sites experienced significant soil and nutrient loss, prompting Gugulethu to propose intercropping as a potential solution.

Building Skills and Overcoming Challenges

Gugulethu’s journey was not without its challenges, but she embraced them as opportunities for growth. Beyond academic rigors, she honed her project management skills, coordinated with stakeholders, and navigated the complexities of field research. Her perseverance and determination were evident as she tackled various obstacles, demonstrating resilience and adaptability.

Application of Skills and Future Prospects

Since completing her Master’s degree, Gugulethu has been actively applying her expertise in her role at DUCT, where she manages the uMngeni Resilience Project (URP). This project, aimed at enhancing the resilience of vulnerable communities, has allowed her to integrate scientific knowledge with community engagement—a testament to her holistic approach to environmental conservation.

Gugulethu’s journey extends beyond academia; she envisions future collaborations and endeavors, fueled by her passion for lifelong learning and service to others. Her international exposure, including a trip to Canada for a prestigious conference, underscores her commitment to global environmental stewardship.


Gugulethu Tshabalala’s journey from UKZN to Canada and beyond exemplifies the transformative power of education and research in addressing environmental challenges. Her dedication, resilience, and passion serve as an inspiration to aspiring environmental scientists worldwide.

As she continues to chart new paths and make meaningful contributions to environmental conservation, Gugulethu stands as a beacon of hope for a more sustainable future.

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