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Centre for African Conservation Ecology

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The Centre for African Conservation Ecology (ACE) was formerly known as the Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit (TERU), and is a research centre focusing on research and postgraduate training within the Faculty of Science at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

The formation of TERU was approved by the Council of the University of Port Elizabeth (which merged with the Port Elizabeth Technikon to form the NMMU in 2005) in 1991. This was in response to a need for terrestrial ecology training opportunities for postgraduate students and for terrestrial ecological research, as expressed by conservation and environmental management agencies within South Africa.

TERU began operating in 1992, within the Zoology Department of the then University of Port Elizabeth, and in 1997 it received Council recognition as a research unit within the Faculty of Science. In 2005, TERU was registered as a Centre within the Faculty of Science of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

In 2006 the Terrestrial Ecology Research Unit was renamed the Centre for African Conservation Ecology to better reflect its status and activities.


The Vision of ACE is to build its national and international recognition as a centre of excellence in the fields of ecological and conservation research, and postgraduate training, and to expand this role in Africa.


The Mission of ACE is to develop scientific knowledge of the ecology and conservation of African ecosystems, especially in the Eastern Cape and adjacent regions of high biodiversity, which will enable society to make wise environmental management decisions. In achieving its Mission, ACE will build human capacity through postgraduate training.


ACE has adopted the following principles in order to overcome constraints on achieving its Vision over the next five years.


ACE will have to expand its activities in finding funds for research, training and administration outside of NMMU.

Setting priorities

ACE will consider, on an ongoing basis, its role, size and internal structure. Given its limited resources, in terms of both finance and capacity, the Centre will ensure that research, training and community service activities will be strategically prioritized.


ACE will maintain flexibility in finding solutions to problems that may constrain the Centre in achieving its Mission. It will also respond to unanticipated opportunities as they arise.


In order to accomplish its Mission, ACE will achieve visibility and a brand status amongst its stakeholders.


ACE maintains a generally flat management structure for its core staff (listed on p. 19) and operates according to the particular strengths of the various individuals.


ACE remains committed to operating within the framework of the NMMU Entities Policy and other relevant NMMU policies.

Contact information
Professor Graham Kerley
Professor, Zoology & Director: Centre for African Conservation Ecology
Tel: 27 41 504 2308

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