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

Our Conservation Work

BotSoc works to build the capacity of botanists and plant lovers and to increase the awareness of the importance of our botanical assets in all sectors of society. 

Youth Garden Maintenance Programme

A youth development programme, funded by BotSoc and implemented by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), is making it possible to unearth new talent for the conservation sector by introducing participants to working with indigenous plants.  

“Careers in the green sector are now much more appealing to young people than they were some time ago,” says Thompson Mutshinyalo, director of the SANBI national botanical gardens. “As an employer, SANBI is proud of growing its own timber. We are committed to developing human capital, particularly widening the pool of future employees for the biodiversity sector.”

Similarly, for BotSoc, the project is about offering participants training opportunities with exposure to options that can expand their worldview, says GM Antonia de Barros. “We hope that after this experience they will emerge able to make better career decisions and contribute in nature-related sectors.”

A career in botanical and other green industries

The Youth Garden Maintenance programme, which began in September 2021, aims to train unemployed young people in skills to build a career in botanical and other green industries. The BotSoc funding enables SANBI to offer them short-term contracts giving work experience in horticulture, conservation and landscape restoration. So far 43 trainees have been placed in botanical gardens and completed the programme in August 2022.

Embracing green opportunities

They spend the time working in the various garden departments, from curation of living collections, plant nursery activities, landscaping and plant collection to wildlife management, plant records, eradication of invasive alien plants, rehabilitation and garden maintenance. Alongside this, they are assisted to develop soft skills that will help their career developments, including CV writing, interview preparation, networking and communication.

Some BotSoc-funded employees have filled vacant posts and assumed responsibility for specific demonstration areas of the gardens, such as the garden of extinction, water-wise garden, sensory garden and medicinal plant garden. Some have opted to study horticulture further.

“The programme helped understand how conservation gardens work,” one group of these employees told us. “It certainly helped make us more marketable.”

“The new skills that we have acquired have definitely improved our capabilities,” said another group. “That opened new opportunities to us.”

Written by: Ronny Tshabala, Senior Communications Officer at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden & Mbuso Zoni, Senior Communications Officer at KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden.

This article was first featured in the June 2023 issue of Veld & Flora, p. 12.

Get involved

The Youth Garden Maintenance Programme has provided employment to 43 youths across South Africa. But the aim now is to expand this model to improve job readiness once they have gained experience in working with plants. As we create more opportunities for our youth, we are also working to improve children’s plant awareness and education, and to develop more in-field engagement and training programmes on ecology, plant identification and conservation in practice for students.

Crew Programme 


Succulent plant crisis

Ex-situ plant collections

Latest Stewardship News

Webinar: BotSoc in action
Colour them beautiful: Saving the Hilton daisy
People for plants: Meet these four incredible BotSoc volunteers
BotSoc Webinar: Grasslands
1 2


Open Monday to Friday 10h00 to 14h00. Closed on weekends and public holidays.

December holidays:  Office will be closed from the 25th December and reopen 1st working day of the new year

Contact Us

We are experiencing intermittent faults with our landlines. If you can't get through on our landline (021 797 2090), please phone or send a message to our alternate WhatsApp number: +27 65 922 6163.







Pin It on Pinterest