Our Blog: Plants and other Stories
Growing the proud legacy of BotSoc
Dec 29, 2022 | Written & photographs by KYRA LUNDERSTEDT, BOTSOC CHAIRPERSON
Above: Lachenalia unifolia by Tina Vlok
Value has different meaning among our community of plant-loving people. This year, we have experienced what energises people through what they value; be it the botanically-rich landscapes they are dedicated to, the excursions and botanising missions with fellow plant-lovers, the quests to protect and steward our botanical heritage, or the exploration and surfacing of local and indigenous knowledge and use of our flora. Each member of our community has a story to tell of their connection to plants.
It is that connection which leads us to know and enjoy our botanical heritage, but how can we keep growing that connection by recognising and taking action to protect what we value?
Above: Kyra Lunderstedt, BotSoc Chairperson
I have been reading a wonderful and wholesome book called “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall-Kimmerer, which speaks extensively on nature’s gifts and the reciprocity between plants and people. One quote which I thought was relevant to us as a society and our connection to plants, stated that: “A garden is a nursery for nurturing connection, the soil for cultivation of practical reverence. And its power goes far beyond the garden gate – once you develop a relationship with a little patch of earth, it becomes a seed itself.”
Next year it will be 110 years since the Botanical Society sowed its first seed with the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. The first of many seeds which has grown a society of members dedicated and connected to the love and conservation of South African plants. Over this time, we are proud of the impact that we have had at various levels. However, next year will also be the first year of a new dawn for the Society in which our current models for sustaining a society of members through the gardens will change, following the decision by the South African National Biodiversity Institute to change the free access to gardens enjoyed by members from March 2024. The continued legacy of BotSoc will be in our hands as a community who values and believes in the society and its unique and evolving role towards plant conservation.
So why is it important for BotSoc to continue its legacy?
The new dawn for the Society comes synergistically with the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in December 2022. A framework, which in its targets recognises nature’s contributions to people, the different values of nature to people, and the efforts required to collectively address biodiversity loss through conservation, sustainable use and restoration.
In the recent newsletter from BotSoc General Manager Antonia de Barros, she gave insight into some of the emerging pathways and key focus areas that emanated from the BotSoc Pathfinder Convention in September. Our plant conservation focus areas are aligned to the new framework, and as a Society we are well positioned to strategically leverage and grow our impactful legacy across the country to continue to be part of the collective and reaffirm our unique role in the name of plants.
Above: BotSoc members volunteer their time and knowledge at various events, as a form of reciprocity toward the love and connection that they experience towards plants.
What is the value of members in being part of this collective?
Two of the emerging pathways for us as a Society are key for enabling us to operate and grow our seeds across the country. The one is toward connection and collaboration to maintain and grow our active presence and the other is specifically toward growing our legacy through fundraising to enable our conservation programmes.
The value of our volunteers through giving of time, knowledge and advocacy as a form of reciprocity toward the love and connection to plants and people is invaluable. In parallel, the monetary value is going to be key to securing the sustainability of the Society to enable our role for plant conservation and further surfacing of the value and connection that plants bring to the people of our Society and beyond.
In 2023 the Society will therefore be embarking on a targeted fundraising and legacy programme, an exercise we would be grateful to receive your continued support toward. We look forward to sharing more about this in our March issue of the Veld & Flora magazine.
From myself, members of Council and the BotSoc team we look forward to the new year and growing our connection and collective role together.
The Botanical Society of South Africa is a member-driven organisation that offers citizen scientists, amateur nature enthusiasts, the general public, and environmental experts the opportunity to join hands and be a part of the solutions to biodiversity challenges across the country.
Know, grow, protect and enjoy South Africa’s indigenous plants.
Monday to Friday 08h30 to 16h00. Closed on weekends and public holidays.
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+27 65 922 6163.