Know, grow, protect and enjoy South Africa's indigenous plants

Our Conservation Work

BotSoc champions biodiversity conservation in South Africa to protect our extraordinary plant diversity and ecosystems. 

Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) Programme

South Africa’s conservation community is a world leader in harnessing the power of citizen scientists to drive successful conservation initiatives and a prime example is the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers Project (CREW). This programme was initially founded in 2003, inspired by the Protea Atlas Project. CREW is based at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and supported by the Botanical Society.  

Citizen scientists

CREW’s nationwide network of citizen scientists collect data on plant species of conservation concern to assist conservation planning and action, as well as engaging with key landowners and generating interest for special plants. There have been 35 CREW groups across the country involving more than 900 citizen scientists, with a significant proportion being BotSoc members. These numbers fluctuate due to the voluntary nature of citizen science. CREW’s work mainly targets sites outside South Africa’s network of formal protected areas.  

Founded within the Cape Floristic Region, CREW expanded to include nodes in the summer rainfall region and in the Eastern Cape and BotSoc will be backing the development of at least one new node in the near future. These nodes assist CREW volunteer groups by offering resources, training courses, workshops and collaboration with local conservation agencies. SANBI Red List scientists use data collected by CREW groups to assess the conservation status of South African flora. This is then used to guide policy and landuse planning.  

International recognition of the achievements of the CREW programme resulted in the funding of four CREW interns through the Groen Sebenza Programme, funded through the Presidential Budget at the time. Funding was disbursed to SANBI to roll out as part of the Green Jobs Fund. BotSoc then retained the interns for a further two years, during which time these interns were recruited by SANBI.

The BotSoc Conservation Programme is working closely with CREW to support botanical citizen science work across the country in priority areas and in close cooperation with Branches.  

Conservation Programme 

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