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Who We Are

Knysna Basin Project is a scientifically based non-profit organisation focused on continued research in the Knysna Basin >>

Community Engagement

Knysna Basin Project aims to create and stimulate public and learner awareness and appreciation of the estuary >>

Public Involvement

Be part of an organization dedicated to the wellbeing of the Knysna Estuary, become a member of the Knysna Basin Project >>

Knsyna Basin Project Trustees:

Ian Corbett (Chairman), John Edwards (Accountant), John Kennedy (Secretary), Prof Alan Hodgson, Mike Davies.

Scientific Team:

Director: Prof Brian Allanson

Prof Brian Allanson was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at Rhodes University in 1963, the youngest Professor ever to have been appointed there. In 1965 the Institute for Freshwater Studies was established at Rhodes, with Brian as its first Director. This group played a seminal role in the investigation of the physics, chemistry and biology of coastal lakes and estuaries, notably Lake Sibaya and the Kosi lakes system in KwaZulu-Natal and the coastal lakes of the Southern Cape.

During his Rhodes years Professor Allanson had spells at Indiana University, Oxford University and at Ferry House, Windermere, as a visiting professor and researcher, and collaborated on an on-going basis with the water research centre at the University of Western Australia. In 1980 he established the Southern Ocean Research Group, and this involved visits to Marion Island as well as to Antarctica. He served as Chief Scientist on two voyages on board the SA Agulhas, South Africa’s Antarctic supply and research ship.

Brian Allanson retired from the Chair of Zoology at Rhodes in 1988. To honour his contribution, his students, colleagues and others set up the Prof BR Allanson Scholarship for post-doctoral study.

After his retirement Prof Allanson settled in Knysna where he established a small practice as a consulting aquatic ecologist.

In 1995 Brian initiated the Knysna Basin Project, a locally and corporate sponsored Not for Profit Organization to assess the environmental condition of the Knysna estuary. The Project has offices and a field laboratory in Waenhout Street, Industria, and on an ongoing basis Brian and others keep a very good eye on all developments and threats to our precious estuary. And in 2000 he was awarded a Senior Scholarship at St Catharines College, Cambridge that allowed him to continue his study of the world literature on estuarine ecosystems.  He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa.

Prof Brian Allanson and Ms Louw Claassesns were jointly  awarded the 2016 Environmental Awards of Rhodes University for environmental studies in the Knysna estuary that promote sustainability.

Professor Allanson retired as Director of the Knysna Basin Project, a position he has held since 1995 and this important position within the Project has be taken over by Ms Louw Claassens on March 1, 2017. We extend our best wishes to her on her appointment.

Members of the Team:

AHodgson2 PS 

Professor Alan Hodgson, a staff member of the Department of Zoology & Entomology, Rhodes University, studies the reproductive biology, behaviour and ecology of the lagoonal and estuarine invertebrates. Current projects include work on the invasive Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and documenting the organisms colonising man-made artificial hard substrata. He is also co-supervising (along with Prof. Alan Whitfield, SAIAB) a Master’s student, Melissa Pollard, who is using video cameras to study fish inhabiting eelgrass meadows.

Alan has undertaken research in the USA, Australia, Hong Kong and Europe. He obtained a B.Sc. Honours degree in Marine Biology from the University of Liverpool, his Ph.D. (1980) and D.Sc. (2004) from the University of Manchester. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, and has been awarded the Gold Medal of the Zoological Society of southern Africa and the Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research award. 

RSKBarnes PS3 

Dr Richard Barnes, an Honorary Professor of the Department of Zoology & Entomology at Rhodes University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, studies the ecology and biodiversity of the relatively small animals that numerically dominate coastal sands and mud.  Besides conducting fieldwork to find out how and why these species vary spatially in the Knysna seagrass beds, and from the seagrass to adjacent bare sand, during the first three months of each calendar year (see The Knysna Seagrass Project on this website), he carries out equivalent work during another annual three-month period in the Moreton Bay Marine Park in Queensland (Australia).

Before formal retirement, Richard was at the University of Cambridge in the UK and he retains an Emeritus Fellowship of St Catharine’s College Cambridge and a Research Fellowship in the University Department of Zoology there. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow of the School of Biological Sciences and the Centre for Marine Sciences at the University of Queensland and of the Biodiversity Program of the Queensland Museum, in Brisbane.



LouwProfile PS 

Louw Claassens joined the Knysna Basin Project team in February 2014. She holds a Masters degree in aquatic health from the University of Johannesburg. The Knysna Seahorse Status (KySS) project forms part of her PhD study through Rhodes University. 

Ms Louw Classen has taken over as Director of Knysna Basin Project on March 1, 2017. We extend our best wishes to her on her appointment.

Citizen Scientists:

The team is greatly helped by the interest and skills of a number of volunteers, called Citizen Scientists, who no longer practise their original professions, but bring their rich stores of experience to bear upon our study of the estuary. Inga Chinnery, Peter Smith, Frances Smith, Maureen Lake, Mike Davies and Lorraine Cloete are actively involved in many ways, particularly environmental interests and numerical analysis of data sets.

Frances and Peter Smith, visiting  biologists, who spend most of summer with us . from. Hampshire, England, studying by careful sampling and analysis the biological diversity of shore sands This coupled with a revision and update of their earlier field hand book, A brief field guide to The Common Shore creatures of the Knysna Estuary provides a very useful adjunct to the field teaching programs which Frances and Peter  in collaboration with other interested persons set up for a number of environmental groups, for example, WESSA, and a number of school groups where Environment Studies are a serious part of the curriculum.

Mr Sydney Bostander, an IT graduate of the Walter Sisulu,Technical University, East London has been appointed part -time to assist with the maintenance and calibration of multiparameter instruments which record in real time changes in a number of parameters which characterise the Knysna Estuary.


Thesen Island Home Owners Association Barloworld Rhodes University
Knysna Marathon Club