A part of the SANBI exhibit

Chelsea, changes and challenges

The reason why achievements such as the Gold medal and RHS President’s Award remains a highlight, is because – as SANBI CEO Dr Tanya Abrahams pointed out:

The richness of our biodiversity is one of South Africa’s greatest natural assets.
South Africa is home to nearly 10% of the world’s plants and contains three regions that have been declared global biodiversity hotspots, so it is fitting that we celebrated this heritage this year at Chelsea.

She went on to say that an effort was made each year at the Chelsea Flower Show “to showcase the broad botanical and cultural diversity of South Africa, as well as the geographic range of the National Botanical Gardens. However, it is important to recognize that the event is a celebration of spring, whereas for us in the southern hemisphere, the season is late autumn. The predominance of flowers from the Cape Floral Kingdom shown at Chelsea is for the simple reason that the fynbos flowers mainly during winter, which is what makes our participation at the Chelsea Flower Show possible”.

Here are some excerpts from news reports and releases following the recent Chelsea Flower Show in London:

This year’s Chelsea Flower Show saw stiff competition as some 500 exhibitors from around the world came down to London.
Hosted on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea since 1913, the flower show is the most prestigious horticultural event in the world.

On 23 May a media release by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) stated that the “team at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show were jumping for joy this this morning when they learned that they had won South Africa’s 35th gold medal in 42 years of exhibiting at the prestigious show”.

In an additional accolade for the team, the display was also awarded with the prestigious President’s Award.

Designers David Davidson and Raymond Hudson described receiving the President’s Award as ‘beyond their wildest dreams’. They emphasized that this win had been a team effort and “it would not have come together without the help of the wonderful group of SANBI staff and volunteers”. Former KBRC chairman Johan West, accompanied by former office administrator Bianca Pronk, was also in the team of volunteers. Mr West has been involved for a second year in a row. He will be joining acclaimed British designer Jonathan Snow at Chelsea 2018 to recreate a typical Western Cape wine farm highlighting fynbos preservation.

Windows on Biodiversity

The media statement further reads: “With its theme Windows on Biodiversity, the circular exhibit with its stunning backdrop of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden is a rich and varied voyage of discovery.”

On display were plants that represent all ten of South Africa’s National Botanical Gardens: Free State, Hantam, Harold Porter, Karoo Desert, Kirstenbosch, Kwelera, Lowveld, KwaZulu-Natal, Pretoria and Walter Sisulu.

Read the following previously published articles for further background:

Changes within our structures

  • At the most recent meeting of the KBRC board of directors on 25 May Johan West announced that he was stepping down as chairperson and in his place, Michael du Toit was unanimously appointed as his successor. Johan will stay on as a director and remain chair of the Western Cape Biosphere Reserves forum which represents the 5 western Cape Biosphere Reserves.
  • Leave was officially taken of Willem Smith, who played a pivotal role in the existence, development and management of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve during his term of office at the Western Cape’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. He fortunately expressed his willingness to remain involved in an advisory and consultancy capacity.

Nearly two decades have gone by…

With the inception date of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve having been 1998, we are approaching its 20th year of existence in 2018. Hopefully there will be suitable events and occasions in place to celebrate and commemorate this noteworthy date. All proposals and suggestions are welcome and can be forwarded to the KBRC office. The email address is admin@kbrc.org.za

With this important upcoming event in mind, let us remind ourselves of the following aspects regarding biosphere reserves in general:

  • Biosphere reserves are designed to meet one of the most challenging issues facing our world today:

    “How to preserve the biodiversity of plants, animals and micro-organisms which make up our ‘living biosphere’ and maintain healthy systems while, at the same time, meet the material needs and aspirations of an increasing number of people.”

  • Each Biosphere Reserve is intended to fulfill three basic functions, which are complementary and mutually reinforcing:
    1. A CONSERVATION function – to contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation;
    2. A DEVELOPMENT function – to foster economic and human development which is socio-culturally and economically sustainable;
    3. A LOGISTICAL function – to provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and development.

More food for thought

The Cape Floral Kingdom is in the heart of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Although it is the smallest of the world’s floral kingdoms, it is the richest with 9,087 different plant species of which 6,218 are endemic (found nowhere else in the world) compared to the 20 endemic species of the British Isles.

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  Vol 4, Issue 2 – June 2017
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