SERIOUS MONDAY: SOUTH AFRICA ANNOUNCES 9TH NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDEN

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South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk announced the establishment of South Africa’s ninth National botanical garden on the outskirts of Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape.

The new garden will be established on the farm of Glenlyon. It is comprised of 6500 ha of land on the Bokkeveld Plateau that is renowned for its diversity of bulbous plants. 40% of the plant life is comprised of bulbs that display in autumn and spring each year. It also contains large natural patches of renosterveld fynbos and succulent Karoo vegetation.

1350 plant species have been recorded so far including 80 range restricted or endemic species. Almost one-third of the species endemic to the Bokkeveld Plateau are threatened with extinction.

Nieuwoudtville is often referred to as the bulb capital of the world.

“The new national botanical garden in Nieuwoudtville in the Northern Cape will provide an important conservation area which will be used by SANBI to promote nature-based tourism, the conservation of the area’s unique biodiversity, environmental education opportunities and long-term ecological research in this botanical hotspot of global significance,” the Minister said.

The purchase of the farm Glenlyon was made possible through funding provided by the National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Conservation International through the Global Conservation Fund and the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust through the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The new Nieuwoudtville National Botanical Garden plans to open to the public January 2008.

It will serve as a centre for biodiversity research in the Succulent Karoo region and Bokkeveld Plateau, with a focus on long-term ecological research conservation, nature-based tourism and education relating to the area’s biodiversity. The centre will be working closely with local and regional stakeholders, bioregional programs, conservation agencies, universities and museums.

SANBI manages South Africa’s network of eight botanical gardens in five provinces. The last botanical garden was established twenty five years ago in 1982 in Roodepoort/Mogale City, Gauteng.

Part of SANBI’s plans is to have at least one botanical garden in each of South Africa’s nine provinces.

Dawn

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