ASSET Research Directors

James Blignaut

James Blignaut is an environmental and resource economist with more than 25 years of experience. He is Professor Extraordinaire attached to the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, Research Fellow of SAEON, and attached to Integra Food and Restore Africa Fund. He also serves on the World Farmer Organisation’s scientific council.

He firmly believes that, through research and capacity building, ASSET can make a contribution towards healing the land and the people of the country and Africa.  He thus focusses his research attention on the economics of restoration and the restoration of economics.

Martin de Wit

Martin de Wit is Professor In Environmental Governance at the University of Stellenbosch with research interests in the fields of economics, ethics and the environment.

james a

James Aronson is a co-founder and co-coordinator of the Restoring Natural Capital Alliance, and more recently, EcoHealth Network  while working closely with ASSET Research in Africa. He has participated in and consulted on numerous restoration and rehabilitation projects and programs in Latin America, Africa, Madagascar,  and the Mediterranean region, and published many books and articles over the past 30 years. From 1992 until 2016, he was part of the Restoration Ecology Group at the Center of Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CNRS), Montpellier, France and from 2016-2020 was senior scientist in the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA (where is now emeritus scientist). Currently, he devotes most of his time to the EcoHealth Network, which focuses its efforts at the interface between ecological restoration and human health.  He also served two terms on the board of directors of the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER) and since 2002 has been editor of the Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration book series published by Island Press in collaboration with SER.


Leandri van der Elst is a freelance editor and typesetter and partnered with ASSET regarding the general administration of projects, publishing stakeholder and client communications (such as the project reports).