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Who We Are

The PCU is part of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. Our unique position on the slopes of Table Mountain is within a World Heritage Site and at the heart of the Cape Floristic Region, which comprises two biodiversity hotspots of global significance, the Fynbos and Succulent Karoo Biomes. We aim to understand plant conservation in the context of landscape change, using a wide range of disciplines including ecology, environmental history, palaeoecology, and social sciences.

Our repeat photography database is the first of its kind in Africa. We also have our own palaeoecology laboratory and fossil pollen reference collection. Since 1995 the PCU has maintained a long-term research site at Paulshoek, a communal area in Namaqualand. Our partnerships with local, regional and international networks are critical to our success.

The Vision for the Plant Conservation Unit is to be a world-class, African-centred research and postgraduate training unit that improves the ecological understanding of Africa’s biomes, the pressures facing them and the opportunities for conservation that benefits both biodiversity and people.

Our Mission is to enable sound management decisions for the sustainable use, conservation and restoration of African biomes, with a particular focus on the Greater Cape Floristic Region, and thereby contribute to the people's quality of life and well-being. We aim to develop human and institutional capacity through research, education and social responsiveness.

Central Principle
A central principle of the work of the PCU is the belief that our activities are transformative in nature. What we do through our research, teaching and socially responsive activities has important transformative consequences for the individual, the institution, the country and the continent. Through our research programmes we attract a diversity of students from across the region, the continent and the world. While we draw heavily on the pool of students from UCT’s undergraduate and honours programmes many students also join the PCU from other institutions, based on our reputation and research profiles.