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Growing branches, growing people, growing communities

JUNE 16, 2023  | WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY BOTSOC NATIONAL

 

Above: Meet our vibrant new Limpopo branch of the Botanical Society, who are joined here by members of Council and the national BotSoc team. 

A Limpopo relaunch driven by our youth

Young people in Limpopo are making their voices heard for plant conservation. In order to achieve that, they have relaunched the Limpopo branch of the Botanical Society of South Africa.

According to newly elected Branch Chairperson, Prince Sello Molokomme, joining BotSoc gives them new support to protect Limpopo’s biodiversity. “Limpopo is one of the richest provinces in terms of biodiversity in South Africa, so being part of BotSoc can help us close the gap between the experts and people who have experience, to the people who have no knowledge at all.”  

 The new branch is made up of around 30 youth members, with a new Committee to boot.

 

Top: BotSoc Chair Kyra Lunderstedt takes a selfie with members of the new Limpopo branch, who show off their Veld & Flora magazines. Below: New Limpopo Branch Committee members chat to each other at the official launch. From the left is the new Branch Chair Prince Sello Molokomme, Mpho Mboweni, Earla Ramokgopa and Kgaogelo Alex Ramulifho.

 

Hands-on to help people

Antonia de Barros, General Manager of BotSoc has praised Prince and his team for their drive to once again bring on-the-ground conservation action back to the Limpopo branch. “It’s been a two-year process to relaunch this branch. But these young people were undeterred. They continued to work to get this Limpopo community even more involved in protecting their plant heritage.”

For Committee member Kgaogelo Alex Ramulifho, “It’s important to be a BotSoc member for outreach purposes, because we educate our surrounding people and engage with them. We want to be hands-on to help people with conservation.”

Another Limpopo BotSoc branch and Committee member, Mpho Mboweni, highlighted the important role the youth plays in conservation. “We are the ones who are going to face the aftermath of all these things going on. So we should be more involved.”

If you live in Limpopo and are keen to join this on-the-ground conservation-driven branch, then be sure to join as a BotSoc member here.

Above: BotSoc is supporting young people in the Pretoria National Botanical Garden and other national botanical gardens across South Africa in our youth garden maintenance development project.

 

Jobs for youth in gardens: Keeping Karoo pristine

Loyiso Moses only started working at the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in April this year, to help maintain and keep the garden in a pristine condition. And already he has learnt a lot.

He says, “This programme has been very productive. It made a huge impact on my life. I’ve learnt how to connect with people; how to connect with nature; getting to see the beauty of nature.”

Loyiso, who comes from Zwelethemba in Worcester, is one of 42 young people stationed in national botanical gardens across South Africa, in a youth garden maintenance development project funded by BotSoc.

He’s joined by Luan Joseph, also from Worcester. Luan says, “Thank you, BotSoc, for giving me the opportunity to join the programme. I’ve learnt a lot, about things like earthquakes. We moan a lot about having no electricity, but there are many things outside (South Africa’s borders) that are a lot worse. Thank you that I could learn this.”

 

Top: The Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden also hosts a number of project participants who help to keep the garden in a pristine condition. Below: Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden Curator Ricardo Riddles at the launch of the garden’s new Braille Trail. 

 

Valuable experience for the youth

According to the garden’s curator, Ricardo Riddles, “Since 2018 we had a low average of permanent workers in the garden and the BotSoc programme really assisted us in doing valuable maintenance in the garden for the public. The guys came in, they assisted us with weeding, pruning, clearing, and also the general tidiness of the garden to present a beautiful garden to the locals and international visitors.

 

Above: The pretty Beetle daisy (Gorteria diffusa) in the Hantam National Botanical Garden.

 

“In return the students experienced horticultural activities and skills, like how to prune, they learnt the names of the plants, they know what time to feed, how to do grass maintenance and assisted in the nursery doing propagation. And that’s valuable experience that lays a platform for students that want to go further in the horticultural field. I just want to thank BotSoc for this initiative.”

Antonia highlights the importance of this project: “We’re growing our social capital with people who are interested in our mission: to know, grow, protect and enjoy our indigenous plants. These are young people who want to make changes in their home areas. That’s why as BotSoc, we’re not only growing branches, but we’re also ‘growing’ people.” 

 

 Above: The young people employed in the Pretoria NBG help to keep this green space in excellent condition for visitors to enjoy. 

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