Welcome to the Afromontane Research Unit: A continental leader in African mountain research....

The Afromontane Research Unit (ARU) is the flagship research group of the University of the Free State (UFS), Qwaqwa Campus,  with research affiliates throughout UFS Faculties and internationally. 

Situated at the base of the majestic Maloti-Drakensberg, the ARU’s Vision is to become a continental leader in African mountain research, with an immediate focus on the sustainable development of the Maloti-Drakensberg. 

The ARU’s mission is to facilitate the development and capacity - building of a high- excellence Africa-based mountain research ‘community of practice’ that informs global mountain research theory and practice and contributes to mountain related policy and governance from an African perspective, thus balancing a predominance of mountain research driven from the Global North and Northern Hemisphere.

The rationale for the ARU stems from the following five opportunities:

  1. The Qwaqwa Campus presents a valuable opportunity to create its own unique, mountain-focused identity, given its location at the foot of the Maloti-Drakensberg. 
  2. There is no combined focus or vision for the sustainable development of the Maloti-Drakensberg, with numerous role-players acting within institutional, geographical, and disciplinary silos.
  3. In general, mountains in Southern Africa (here defined as south of the Congo rainforests and Lake Rukwa) are largely unexplored by scientists, poorly researched in virtually all disciplines, under appreciated by economists and politicians despite the valuable key public goods and services they provide, and absent from most government policies. 
  4. There is a major ‘continental silo’ between mountain research programmes in Southern, Eastern, Western and Northern Africa, compared to other continents such as North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. 
  5. Currently, the global mountain research agenda is driven by the North/Northern Hemisphere.

Contact us

Dr V Ralph Clark 
Director: Afromontane Research Unit
       T: +27 58 718 5407
         E: ClarkVR@ufs.ac.za

Lethiwe Sokhela 
Assistant Officer: Research Development

       T: +27 58 718 5292
             E: SokhelaLN@ufs.ac.za

ARU