Stellenbosch University’s botanical garden has become the first in South Africa to receive Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) accreditation…

In a statement, the university said BGCI Accreditation recognised achievements in plant conservation by institutions carrying out a range of conservation-related policies, practices and activities.

Only nine botanical gardens around the world have received this honour, with Stellenbosch University being the second in Africa.

BGCI secretary general Dr Paul P Smith, based in the UK, said the university’s botanical garden was very special due to it being the only university-managed botanic garden in the Cape Floristic Region.

“With dozens of threatened plant species only represented in your collection, and in no other collections globally, the SU Botanical Garden is of critical importance for global research and conservation efforts,” said Smith.

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“We have also seen large increases in requests from your collection from other institutions since you have started sharing your collections data with our global PlantSearch database in 2014.”

Platform for international partnerships

He added that, with various well-regarded academics and research groups at the university, the SU Botanical Garden provided the “perfect platform” from which to build international partnerships and drive various research and conservation projects.

“Besides the collections, the expertise that has been built up in your Botanical Garden and University has a huge role to play in helping build capacity in other botanic gardens not only in your region but also on the rest of the continent,” Smith said.

Stellenbosch University Chief Operating Officer Professor Stan du Plessis said the accreditation was a valuable international recognition for the leading work at the university’s botanical garden.

Oldest botanical garden in Africa

“The Garden has an important focus on environmental conservation and especially the protection and study of species that are critically endangered,” said du Plessis.

“This accreditation also reflects the increasing role that the Garden plays in the international pursuit of environmental conservation. We are particularly proud that the Garden is one of only two botanical gardens in Africa that received this accreditation.”

He also credited Martin Smit, former curator of the botanical garden, as being instrumental in receiving the accolade.

“Not only did Mr Smit greatly enhance the research value of the Garden – he for example introduced new standards of record keeping in the garden – he also initiated large-scale projects.”

These included restoring the heating system for the lily dams to accommodate the specific needs of the giant water lily, Victoria cruziana – with the garden being the only one in Africa, apart from Madagascar, where visitors can observe this unique lily.”

The Stellenbosch University botanical garden is the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa.

The accredited gardens are:

  1. The Gullele Botanic Garden in Ethiopia;
  2. Huntington Library, Art Collections, USA;
  3. Botanical Gardens, USA;
  4. Jardín Botánico Universitario – BUAP, Puebla, Mexico;
  5. National Botanic Garden of Wales, United Kingdom;
  6. Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden, Laos;
  7. Stellenbosch University Botanical Gardens, South Africa;
  8. University Botanic Gardens Ljubljana, Slovenia and
  9. Wollongong Botanic Garden, Australia


Author: ANA Newswire