Our Blog: Plants and other Stories
What you must know about BotSoc membership changes
May 31, 2023
BotSoc / SANBI Collaboration
Life Members’ guest garden entry benefit honoured beyond March 2024
After more than a year of negotiation with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), our BotSoc Council, led by Kyra Lunderstedt, is thrilled to confirm that SANBI has notified us that they will honour our BotSoc Life Members’ guest garden entry benefit beyond 31 March 2024. This includes our very special Honorary Life members and their guests who have done so much for the SANBI gardens and our BotSoc programmes.
While the negotiation discussions had concluded between BotSoc and SANBI on the collaboration agreement, there was this one final matter that we were waiting for feedback on from SANBI: The decision regarding free entry for Life Members’ guests (those with updated Webtickets guest cards which have been verified by 31 March 2023) into national botanical gardens beyond 31 March 2024.
A long and challenging process
This follows extensive negotiations between our BotSoc Council, supported by BotSoc’s national team and SANBI regarding the changes made to the collaboration agreement. Both BotSoc and SANBI sought legal opinions on various aspects of the changes along the way. Initially, SANBI had decided that those members with guest cards could join Life Members free of charge in gardens only until 31 March 2024 – whereafter guests would have to pay to enter the gardens.
It has not been an easy process, and it has resulted in a major change for our annual members and our organisation. These changes will have a significant impact on our revenue as a non-profit organisation, but we are confident that our very important work in the plant conservation sector will continue to be valued and supported by our members, partners and donors. Join us as we leave a living legacy as we know, grow, protect and enjoy South Africa’s indigenous plants across our core focus areas:
- Saving important plant areas and threatened species
- Responding to the plant-poaching crisis
- Stewardship through partnerships
- Growing capacity and awareness
- Youth development
- Supporting botanical gardens and collections
We’re pleased that SANBI has responded positively – for both our Life Members and their accompanying guests. We are very grateful to all our Life Members who have been exceptionally patient in allowing this process to run its course. We are especially grateful to our BotSoc Council members, under the leadership of our Chairperson Kyra Lunderstedt and Treasurer Murray Barnetson, as volunteers, who have provided sterling strategic direction in these unprecedented times. We look forward to our members attending the AGM on 1 July 2023 to finalise the SANBI collaboration review process by vote.
Following amendments to the BotSoc/SANBI collaboration agreement, there are some important membership changes to take note of:
Through our collaboration agreement with SANBI, BotSoc members enjoyed free access to National Botanical Gardens. Now that the negotiations have concluded, we can confirm the following changes for BotSoc members.
1. If you bought your membership before or on 31 March 2023, you have free access to SANBI National Botanical Gardens for one more year until that membership expires.
2. Any membership bought on or after 1 April 2023 will not include free entry to National Botanical Gardens but will allow you to receive a 10% discount on your own garden entrance fees.
3. This benefit arrangement will be honoured until 31 March 2025. That means if you buy a BotSoc membership between 1 April 2023 and 31 March 2024, you enjoy 10% discount on your own garden entrance fees until your membership expires a year later. The next round of BotSoc/SANBI negotiations will then determine what happens after 1 April 2025 and therefore affecting memberships purchased and commencing from 1 April 2024.
4. SANBI will honour existing BotSoc Life Memberships who will continue to enjoy unlimited free access to NBGs.
5. SANBI will honour BotSoc Life Members’ guest garden entry benefit beyond 31 March 2024. This means that Life Members’ guests (those with updated Webtickets guest cards which had been verified by 31 March 2023) will receive free entry into NBGs into the future.
While we’re letting our members know of these changes, SANBI NBG staff are also sharing information on these changes with BotSoc members visiting the gardens.
We’ve worked hard behind the scenes to implement these changes – including simplifying the Webtickets platform and have introduced the necessary system changes, in line with the 2022 AGM resolutions.
According to BotSoc General Manager Antonia de Barros, “At the heart of BotSoc’s work as a non-profit organisation is our involvement in protecting our plants through our conservation activities. We work to protect important plant areas and threatened species, and to respond to the plant-poaching crisis. And we grow capacity of these plant guardians – especially the youth. Given the terrifying rate of biodiversity loss, this work has never been more important.”
BotSoc has also since our inception 110 years ago provided support to National Botanical Gardens, assisting with plant collections, guiding, and any other help needed. “The value of our volunteers, as they give time, knowledge and resources as a way of showing their love and connection to plants, is phenomenal. For the sake of our plants, this support to the National Botanical Gardens will continue at this time.”
The new arrangement between BotSoc and SANBI will remain in place until 31 March 2024 and the benefits honored until 31 March 2025.
“This change in access to National Botanical Gardens for BotSoc members from 1 April onwards is a big change for our members, as we adapt to a new dawn for the Society. We have exciting plans in place to develop new relationships with new partners to help protect, support and enjoy new places. At the core, however, is our relationship to nature – how nature contributes to people, and how our collective efforts are needed to prevent the continued loss of our natural world. So watch this space as we evolve in our role as plant custodians.”
Please don’t hesitate to contact our national BotSoc office for further clarification. Phone us on 021 797 2090 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently asked questions
Who do the gardens belong to?
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) are the custodians of the National Botanical Gardens. BotSoc does not own the gardens, although BotSoc members have provided volunteer support to the gardens over the years.
What is happening with garden access for BotSoc members?
BotSoc and SANBI have reviewed their collaboration agreement (a process which takes place every few years). During the most recent negotiations in 2022, SANBI highlighted their decision to change the free access benefit that they had granted BotSoc members to National Botanical Gardens. Going forward, BotSoc members must please take note of the following changes.
There will therefore be a year where these two benefits overlap, with some members having full free access (if you renew your membership on or before 31 March 2023) and some members receiving a 10% discount (if you renew your membership on or after 1 April 2023).
We’ll keep updating this page as any new information and updates become available.
Will I have free garden access on existing memberships expiring before March 2024?
Yes, existing memberships will have full free garden access for the validity of your current membership. So if you renewed your membership in November 2022, you will have free garden access until November 2023, when your membership expires. Thereafter you will receive a 10% discount on entry into the gardens.
How can I renew my membership or buy a new membership starting 31 March 2023?
- Go to Webtickets (webtickets.co.za); and either log into your profile or register a new profile.
- Search and select ‘Botanical Society of South Africa sign up page’
- Using the calendar, go to 31 March 2023 and click on it (this will then be your membership starting date)
- Follow the screen prompts to select the membership package of your choice and then select ‘next’
- You can add scholars by selecting the (+) next to the option
- Complete the member details
- Process the payment
- Once the details have been completed, using the ‘Choose Action’ drop down menu, select ‘View Membership’ to view your digital membership card. You can also download your card from here.
You can also access the Webtickets page from the BotSoc website: https://botanicalsociety.org.za/join-now/
Will BotSoc cease the sale of memberships?
BotSoc is a membership based civil society organisation, and members enjoy a variety of benefits, including access to the Veld & Flora publication, invites to member-only events and talks, and many more benefits. However, the benefits may change from time to time.
Can I buy a new BotSoc membership to start on 31 March 2023, even if my current membership is still valid?
Yes, in order to optimise the free garden access benefit, your membership period may overlap. Be sure to select the starting date as 31 March 2023 on Webtickets to secure this benefit.
No pro rata fee will apply as each membership is an annual membership, hence the annual/12 months validity period fee will apply.
Does BotSoc sell guest cards?
Following a resolution passed at our AGM on 2 July 2022, guest cards associated with all membership categories were stopped as of 1 October 2022.
As per the AGM, “Due to the SANBI Collaboration Review process, considering the financial return to SANBI on guest card purchases and the usage by BotSoc members, this benefit is being withdrawn as a priority.”
Existing guest cards will still have access until they expire.
SANBI has agreed to honour Life Members and their guest cards beyond 31 March 2024.
Will there be further opportunity to engage on these changes?
Two separate orientation sessions will be arranged for annual and life members to engage with BotSoc before the end of March 2023. We will communicate with members shortly on these.
Can I still buy BotSoc Life Memberships that include free lifetime access to SANBI National Botanical Gardens?
The sale of Life Memberships with the free garden access benefit ceased with immediate effect, as voted on at the National AGM on 2 July 2022.
What happens to existing Life Members?
All BotSoc Life Members need to contact BotSoc to confirm their details, even if already registered on Webtickets. Please send us an email to verify your data and grant BotSoc permission to share your data with SANBI to secure your free garden access.
Please note: BotSoc Life Memberships are non-transferrable.
SANBI have agreed to honour both Life Members and their accompanying guests beyond 31 March 2023. All other annual membership guest entries were terminated, as decided at the BotSoc AGM on 2 July 2022.
What does BotSoc need from existing Life Members to ensure their lifetime free access to SANBI National Botanical Gardens?
An email explicitly permitting us to give your necessary details to SANBI which must include the following details.
- Valid cellphone number
- Valid email address
- ID number or passport number and date of birth of the primary member
- Name and surname of the primary member
- Old membership number (if available/known)
- New membership number if on Webtickets (if already on Webtickets) (if available/known)
You can send the email to: email@example.com
What happens in April 2024?
Your BotSoc membership fees not only offer you benefits such as the Veld & Flora publication, invites to member-only events, and much more, but they also support BotSoc’s conservation agenda. Membership benefits relating to SANBI National Botanical Garden access have, however, not been decided on and therefore more changes to garden access could come into play from April 2024, to be determined by the next round of negotiations between SANBI and BotSoc.
BotSoc will be embarking on a focused fundraising programme to secure our sustainability with immediate effect. Our members’ support through this transition is important, allowing us to continue our conservation work, protecting threatened species and ecosystems.
Are these changes coming into effect on 1 April 2023 final?
BotSoc spent much of 2022 negotiating these changes with SANBI, to explore all avenues, scenarios and opportunities. The BotSoc Council and management team have been intimately involved in the process. However, these changes are final, based on SANBI’s feedback. Here’s the statement from SANBI regarding their reasons for the changes to member benefits.
Potential SANBI loyalty programme
Through the BotSoc SANBI review process, SANBI has made mention of a potential garden access loyalty programme that they intend to launch. However, nothing has been confirmed. If BotSoc becomes aware of or has confirmation of the rollout of such a programme we will inform our members as soon as possible.
Will the free access to Kirstenbosch gardens for seniors on a Tuesday fall away?
The Tuesday pensioner concession is offered by SANBI and BotSoc is not involved in this decision. As per our current understanding, the Tuesday free entry to Kirstenbosch gardens for pensioners concession still stands.
Here’s a reminder of what’s happened to date:
Know, grow, protect and enjoy South Africa’s indigenous plants.
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