Meet our Council
2022 – 2023
Chair of Council: Kyra Lunderstedt
Kyra is a qualified environmental scientist, who is passionate about the Subtropical Thicket Biome, which she became interested in through her studies and past restoration research work. She has an MSc in Environmental Science from Rhodes University and is currently working in the project management unit to a large Global Environment Facility-funded project at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project operates across four South African landscapes to enhance the adoption of Sustainable Land Management in support of the green economy, improved livelihoods and enhanced knowledge.
Kyra is passionate about and energised by ecosystems and enjoys identifying and drawing both plant and bird species. As an artist, Kyra enjoys using her creative skill to enhance the presentation of information that bridges the gap between science and communication.
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In her spare time, Kyra is also a CREW member and a committee member of the Thicket Forum. Her interests are in landscape ecology, land cover change, land degradation, social-ecological systems and knowledge management. She has served in her current role with the UNDP since 2019. Prior to this, she worked in two roles with the Rhodes Restoration Research Group as a GIS and Knowledge Manager for the Tsitsa Project, and as a researcher on thicket-related work. In her role, she co-authored the Subtropical Thicket Research and Praxis Strategy and in earlier years worked mapping illegal deforestation and conducted carbon and biodiversity baselines for a long-term thicket monitoring project. Kyra has also worked as an independent consultant, contributing to specialist botanical assessments of EIAs for citrus and wind farms in the Eastern Cape.
She is well travelled, and spent time exploring Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, working for a river expedition tour group. Here her interest in the natural world and people’s relationship with their environment was piqued.
Treasurer: Murray Barnetson
Murray was elected to the BotSoc Council in 2021 as Treasurer. He has 25 years of experience providing strategic, fiscal and operations leadership – often in challenging environments. He obtained his Bachelor of Accounting Science, followed by his Honours, also in Accounting Science, from the University of South Africa. He is a registered Chartered Accountant with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Murray’s love for the outdoors, including gardening and mountain biking brought him closer to the Botanical Society, and he joined as member in 2020.
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Murray is the co-owner of Part Time FD and DoughGetters Accounting. He provides part-time financial director services and uses his strategic abilities and love of technology to design and implement financial systems and business strategies for clients, a role he has undertaken since 2011.
Prior to this, he served as Financial Director of Strategic Insurance Systems, an insurance underwriter, and before that he was Group Financial Director of the X-PLOR Group, a subsidiary of the Dimension Data Group, where he was based in the United Kingdom. X-PLOR provided network testing and revenue assurance solutions to clients such as O2, Orange, Vodacom and MTN.
Between the mid 1990s and 2000, he represented Country Escapes Premium Leisure in South Africa as Group Financial Manager, and moving to London in 1999, he joined Delta UK Land Developments PLC as Director of Finance.
Murray earned the leadership position of Bombardier in the Anti-Aircraft Corp during his national service. He is also a member of MENSA.
He brings a wealth of financial and general business experience to the BotSoc team.
Sabelo Lindani is the founder and managing director of Contour Enviro Group, an environmental management company based in Cape Town. He has worked in the conservation sector since 2006, including protected area management for CapeNature, training and ecological advisory services for the City of Cape Town, and head of training at the Green Futures College.
Sabelo joined the Botanical Society Council in March 2022 following the resignation of a Council member, Marinda Nel.
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Sabelo completed his Bachelor of Technology, Nature Conservation in 2011 from the Nelson Mandela University. He is also currently completing a Conservation MBA from the African Leadership University in Rwanda.
Aside from running the Contour Enviro Group, Sabelo serves as a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), one of the commissions of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and serves as deputy vice-chair under the regional leadership of the East and Southern Africa Region. He also provides a leadership role on the capacity development group steering committee of the commission and has worked as the regional leader for East and Southern Africa, developing young professionals under the WCPA.
Sabelo is trained as an Incident Commander (IC) Type 3 in fire management, and is an experienced trainer and CATHSSETA-registered assessor. He is also the winner of the Tholoana Award of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme – which rewarded his commitment to his business.
Michele is a botanist and an environmental ecologist with a MSc in botany. She is also a registered carbon footprint analyst and a trained Environmental Management Inspector.
She is based in Mtunzini in northern KZN and is currently working with the SAPPI Warburgia salutaris Conservation Working Group while supporting various organisations involved with plant conservation initiatives and rehabilitation projects.
More about Michele
Michele lived in the Kruger National Park for 17 years. During this time she worked for SANParks Scientific Services as the science communication manager. She then joined the SANParks Conservation Management team as manager of the Skukuza Indigenous Nursery for 10 years. This work included research and propagation of endangered plant species such as the Pepperbark (Warburgia salutaris) and critically endangered Swazi Lily (Adenium multiflorum) and various cycad species. The work in the nursery included community outreach programmes, school greening projects, Working for Water projects, botanical research projects and field work to collect plant material for research and propagation in the nursery. This also allowed her to work with a number of key partners, such as the SANBI, Agricultural Research Council (ARC), SAPPI, local and international universities, local stakeholders and community organisations.
Michele spent two years in Botswana based in Maun working with the Great Plains Conservation as their environmental officer for their concessions and lodges in the Okavango Delta and Zimbabwe. Through this role, she could assist in ensuring environmental compliance and sustainability in all sectors of the company’s operations and future developments including community outreach work and environmental audits.
She is also working at Twinstreams Indigenous Nursery and the new Eco Estate under development – Salta – in Umhloti as the botanist assisting in alien plant removal and coastal dune forest rehabilitation. Michele is committed to plant conservation and rehabilitation of habitats and degraded landscapes through innovative mechanisms that recognize the role of communities in all aspects of ecosystem services restoration.
Charles is a botanist, author and businessperson with more than 50 years of experience in the botany world. His long list of accomplishments includes an Honorary DSc from the University of Glamorgan, Honorary Research Fellow at Birmingham University and Honorary Professor at Reading University. He is also the editor of four books, including co-authoring the ‘Field Guide to Renosterveld of the Overberg’, and has authored and co-authored more than 160 articles. While Charles currently lives in the United Kingdom, he is South African by birth. He grew up in KwaZulu-Natal where he obtained his Master’s degree from the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg) and later completed his PhD at the University of Cape Town.
Charles adopts an approach to life that highlights the urgent challenge to humanity to live an economically prudent, environmentally sustainable, socially just, socially responsible and spiritually fulfilling presence on the planet. His wide interests include plants, insects, life’s journey, travel, nature, conservation, landscapes, agriculture, gardening, rare breeds of animals, arts, poetry, history, philosophy, anthropology, comparative religion, cultures, citizen science and futures thinking.
More about Charles
Charles started his career at the Botanical Research Institute in Pretoria in 1972 until 1982, during which time he spent three years as the South African Liaison Botanist in London at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. He returned briefly to South Africa for two years but then went back to London to assume a new post at Kew Gardens, serving as the Krukoff Botanist for Neotropical Legume Research. After a two-year stint he returned to his alma mater at the University of Natal as Associate Professor at the Department of Botany, but once again headed to Kew Gardens as research co-ordinator in NE Brazil, and later as Deputy Director and Director of Science and Horticulture at Kew until 1996.
He then became the Founding Director and CEO of the National Botanic Garden of Wales, a £50-million Landmark Millennium project. The garden opened in 2000 – and through Charles’s leadership, it introduced sustainable principles such as generating its own energy, organic farming, and effluent purification. He worked under the principle that ‘Gardens are great places to grow people’. He says, “My approach was to implement a cradle-to-cradle approach where a parent would bring their child to the garden and they in turn would bring their own child. The time it takes for cultural change to take place”.
After leaving the garden Charles ran a business consultancy until 2007 when he became a Mellon Foundation mentor and then later an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. This has allowed him to travel regularly to his home country.
Charles has had a life-long service as a board member or Trustee of many social enterprises, and charitable and scientific trusts in the UK and South Africa, including the European Botanic Gardens Consortium, Species Survival Commission of IUCN, European Botanic Gardens Consortium; Tropical Forest Resource Group and currently as Research Advisor to the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust.
Frank has served as Treasurer & then Chair of the BotSoc Lowveld Branch, since 2010. He served on BotSoc Council in 2013-14 and again 2021-22 . He graduated with a BComm degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and attended a Programme for Management Development course at Harvard Business School in Boston, USA.
Frank’s love of nature is clear through his involvement and support of nature-based organisations. Aside from his involvement in BotSoc he has also served as Treasurer and Chair of BirdLife Lowveld from 2003 until February 2022.
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Frank worked for two manufacturing factories involved in Manganese beneficiation into pure Manganese-based products. While he started as accountant, he quickly progressed through the ranks to Commercial Director responsible for Accounting; Sales and Marketing in Asia; Supply Chain Management, and Human Resources. He ended his service as the Managing Director of their International Marketing company based in the UK before retiring in 2003.
Frank has always been a committee person serving primarily as either Chair or Treasurer of organisations that allowed him to enjoy his hobbies. Throughout his adult life, he has been very involved in sports clubs, including tennis and yachting, as well as service organisations such as LIONS and JAYCEES. He has also served on parent teacher associations and governing bodies of the schools his children attended, as well as on church organisations within the Methodist Church. He is a widely experienced committee person.
Clinton is a specialist scientist with a PhD in botany. With 20 peer-reviewed papers, as well as 40 conferences and symposia to his name, Clinton brings valuable expertise and experience to the BotSoc council. Since 2015, he has also been an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Life Sciences.
Clinton has been involved in many notable discoveries in the botanical world, including, most recently, the discovery of a new blue mushroom record for South Africa (Entoloma hochstetterii) from the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site in 2011.
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With a background in tutoring, lecturing and post-graduate supervision throughout his academic career, Clinton has been especially involved in biodiversity conservation and research after completing his PhD in 2004. More recently, in 2016, he was appointed the curator of the Donald Killick Herbarium at the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service.
Over the past two decades Clinton has served on many biodiversity committees, including acting as chair of the EKZNW Protected Area Expansion Task Team, coordinator of the EKZNW Protected Area Management Effectiveness Working Group, and co-chair of the Scientific Committee of The Conservation Symposium.
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