Role of National Botanical Gardens
SANBI’s National Botanical Gardens (NBGs) have embraced their expanded role of educating and informing the broader public of the value and importance of South Africa’s rich biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide through various programmes and events that are held in the NBGs. As national biodiversity facilities, the NBGs document and conserve their biodiversity through consultation with professional biologists and amateur organisations. 440 birds have been recorded in the NBGs so far. Other checklists include consolidated lists of amphibians, butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies, freshwater fishes, mammals, molluscs, reptiles, spiders and scorpions.
SANBI from 1990 - 2000
The 1990s could well be considered to be the decade of the most significant capital investment and development in Kirstenbosch. With the launch of the well-documented Kirstenbosch Development Campaign and using the philosophy of ‘strategic opportunism’, major investment was made in upgrading visitor amenities, garden management facilities, new conservatory, restaurant, nursery, herbarium, library and research facilities in Kirstenbosch. During the period from 1990 to 2000, Kirstenbosch visitor numbers rose from 350,000 to 650,000. Kirstenbosch has come a long way from its early days. In the years 1914 to 1920, a third of Kirstenbosch’s revenue was derived from the sale to the general public of firewood, acorns and dried buchu leaves. Kirstenbosch will be celebrating its centenary in 2013.
SANBI since 2000
Since 2000, with support from the Department of Environmental Affairs (previously the Dept. of Env. Affairs and Tourism), significant investment has also been made in upgrading facilities in the other national botanical gardens. This has included new restaurants, visitors’ centres, new and upgraded parking areas, environmental education centres, function facilities and pathways.
Gardens Expansion Strategy
As part of the organisation's Gardens Expansion Strategy approved by the SANBI Board, SANBI is currently expanding its network of national botanical gardens to those provinces without national botanical gardens. Priority is currently being given to the Eastern Cape and the Limpopo Provinces.
The Kwelera National Botanical Garden in the Eastern Cape near East London was proclaimed in 2014 and will be opening to the public in a few years' time when the necessary infrastructure has been completed. A further national botanical garden in the Limpopo Province is planned.