Mulalo Munarini | WWF South Africa

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Mulalo Munarini

2019 intern

Mulalo Munarini grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories of how her family relied on nature, driving home the need to protect the resources that have allowed her and her family to survive for generations. It has been this legacy that has pushed Mulalo to pursue a career that would secure this appreciation for others.

She has completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry and Biology and Honours degree in Botany at the University of Venda. While completing her Master of Science degree in Forestry and Natural Resources Science at Stellenbosch University, she has been placed as a Conservation Scientist intern at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

We asked her to share more:

What motivated your career choice?
I grew up in a rural area, where we depend on nature for food, shelter and medicine. We benefit a lot from trees, so I wanted to do something related to the conservation, and the study, of trees.
 
What do you hope to gain from the internship?
I want to learn as much as I can and I want to grow and gain practical exposure on how best to conserve and manage South Africa’s rich biodiversity.
 
What excites you the most about the internship?
The ability to learn through doing within the workplace is exciting. It provides an opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them because when I continue my career, there won’t be time to make mistakes.
 
What do you think is the biggest environmental issue the world is facing right now?
Global warming is our biggest challenge right now. We have been cutting down trees at breakneck speed and we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air by restoring woodland areas and protecting the trees that are currently there.
 
What contribution do you wish to make to the well-being of people and nature?
We depend on the environment, and people need to be taught about the importance of protecting our biodiversity. People need to understand that their well-being and health depend on the environmental resources that we use so freely.
 
If you had a chance to change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would introduce payment for ecosystem services (PES) in plantation forests. It is an attractive conservation tool used to preserve and restore ecosystem services. Many forestry owners around the world are acting on conserving and restoring important ecosystem services in this way.
 
Who do you admire the most and why?
I admire my mother who has never given up on me. I was born partially deaf and struggled with speech but my mother made it her responsibility to teach me how to be confident and to believe in myself.
 
What role do you think your generation could play in creating a better world for all?
We have the responsibility of teaching people about the importance of forests and nature in general. When we protect nature, we protect our future.

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