Nurture Restore Innovate (NRI) is an initiative established by Dr Peter Carrick with a mission to integrate ecological research, business entrepreneurship, and socio-economic needs through ecological restoration systems for the long-term sustainable benefit of local communities and the natural environment.

Working in fragile arid landscapes, the NRI’s unique business and restoration strategy is based on a philosophy that restoration of degraded ecosystems must be understood at a landscape rather than a site scale, be based on biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics, and be implemented through long-term partnerships and support systems, rather than through the short-term recommendations and contracts that is the established consulting practice. The uptake of NRI systems in the extensive mining lands of the Succulent Karoo Biodiversity Hotspot, and now in other arid systems globally, is testimony to the NRI’s successful integration of science-based, pro-poor restoration systems with the business operations of major mining companies.

To date, the globally pioneering restoration techniques of the NRI have restored more than 500 hectares, increased skills of 120 people whose landscapes have been degraded by mining, and created 15-30 permanent restoration jobs in new locally-owned businesses.

The NRI shows that burning idealism and the practical application of rigorous scientific research can restore and protect the natural environment and southern Africa’s globally unique semi-arid biodiversity, create new jobs and skills in rural areas, and become a model to the world of economic activity that facilitates truly sustainable development.

Peter Carrick is and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Cape Town’s Plant Conservation Unit. Read more about his academic interests.


Winner of the National Science and Technology Award for Innovation