Rooiklip Research Station
Namibia’s great escarpment is a steep descent where the semi-arid African highveld declines to the coastal plain with the Namib Desert. With its rugged landscape, deeply cut ephemeral rivers, and pronounced environmental gradients it offers a plethora of different micro sites, supporting wildlife and vegetation in an otherwise harsh climate. Forming a narrow, only 30 km wide transition zone between the more humid Nama Karoo and the hyper-arid Namib Desert, this fragile ecosystem is vulnerable to climate change and ecological disturbance. Hence, the escarpment offers an ecologically exiting but logistically challenging environment. Most of the area is very remote, more than 200 km from the next town, accessible only over often hardly recognizable farm tracks and without the comfort of civilization.
Our current research in Namibia’s escarpment region is focused on encroachment by herbaceous plants and its impact on diversity and grassland productivity, the role of plant-animal-interaction in encroachment processes, the relevance of ecosystem engineering for maintaining diversity and ecosystem functioning and the impact of climate change on the ecology of the great escarpment.
To provide the basic infrastructure and a comfortable base camp for our ecological research, the Rooiklip Research Station was built and is run together with the Rooiklip Guest Farm, situated halfway between Windhoek and Walvis Bay, at 1000 m a.s.l. at the foot of the Gamsberg, in the hilly landscape of the lower Great Escarpment.
The station currently offers three stone huts, each accommodating 2 to 3 people and additional camp sites, an ablution block with 2 toilets and showers, a field kitchen with gas stove and fridge, a store room for equipment and research material, and most important, a spacious lapa as work and living area.
While Rooiklip Research Station is reserved for our own research at the chair of Restoration Ecology from mid of February until mid of May each year, its accommodation and facilities are available for other institutions or tourist groups during the rest of the year.