Building Bridges for Global Plant Conservation

6 Nov 2018 - 08:30

A conference on the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation was recently held from 28-30 August 2018 at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town. The conference was hosted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and was organised in association with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. The Plant Conservation Unit’s PhD student Kirsti Nghidinwa was among 120 participants from 35 countries. She reflects that the conference presented an opportunity to network with the who’s who in the plant world from staff at the Missouri Botanic Garden to CapeNature representatives.

South Africa's National Strategy for Plant Conservation

SANBI was one of the institutions that shared their experience at the conference in developing and implementing South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation. The Orange (Gariep) River endemic Pachypodium namaquanum (Halfmens), a small succulent tree endemic to the arid Namaqualand region and surrounds, depicted on the cover of the strategy, is listed as Endangered in South Africa, as a protected species in neighbouring Namibia, and is included in Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) due to illegal collection from the wild. Kirsti’s thesis is focused on exploring the drivers of population dynamics of this iconic species. The results of her study will feed into a conservation strategy for the species.

Left: The cover page of South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation featuring Pachypodium namaquanum. Right: Pachypodium namaquanum thriving at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. 

African Botanic Gardens Network
Representatives of African Botanic Gardens Network gathered together to discuss opportunities for a side meeting at the upcoming International Congress for the Association for the Taxonomic Study of the Flora of Tropical Africa (AETFAT) in April 2020 in Livingstone, Zambia.

From left to right: Mrs Maité Delmas, National Museum of Natural History (France)/Francophone African Botanic Gardens; Prof Sebsebe Demissew, Gullele Botanic Garden (Ethiopia); Mr Christopher Willis, Chief Director: Conservation Gardens & Tourism, SANBI; Dr Paul Smith, Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI); Ms Kirsti Nghidinwa, Ministry of Environment and Tourism (Namibia); Prof John Onyango, University Botanic Garden, Maseno (Kenya); Ms Kirsty Shaw, BGCI.

A trip to the West Coast

At the end of the conference delegates were treated to a memorable field trip up South Africa’s west coast, which included a stop at Postberg in the West Coast National Park to witness first-hand the famous west coast spring wildflower display. The unmissable Dimorphotheca put up a strong show, while its less common look-alike Felicia and the Threatened Silene ornata could be spotted on the slopes of a limestone koppie.


~ Article and images supplied by Kirsti Nghidinwa