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:

  1. Saving important plant areas and threatened species
  2. Responding to the plant-poaching crisis
  3. Stewardship through partnerships
  4. Growing capacity and awareness
  5. Youth development
  6. 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.


 Antonia says,

“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: sanbicollab@botanicalsociety.org.za.

Here’s a reminder of what’s happened to date:


#SecretSeason: Winter at Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens
Turning my conservation dreams into reality
Life on the Edge: Saving the Albertina Sisulu Orchid from Extinction
Spring Flower Watch: Ingwehumbe Nature Reserve
1 2 19


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