Once again it is an honour to report on the impressive contribution that the NBI has made to the life of our community.
The past year has been marked by a record number of awards being received by NBI in fields as diverse as horticulture, marketing, tourism, science and outreach - an indicator of the high level of service quality and delivery achieved by the Institute.
In keeping with the NBI's mission to serve the people of South Africa, active involvement with communities through projects on health, the aged, women, the urban poor and other disadvantaged groups has been expanded. The facilities of our eight Gardens have been used to celebrate national and international cultural festivals, such as Heritage Day, Mother's Day, Youth Day, Wetlands Week, Arbor Week, Water Week and many other local events.
The scientific and technical skills of NBI staff have been called on to advise the cabinet, parliamentary portfolio committees, the DEA&T, provincial conservation agencies and local authorities on many aspects of environmental conservation - from global climate change to forensic studies on plant identification.
The success of the SABONET project, which now involves over 150 young professionals from ten SADC countries, provides a working model of South Africa's vision of the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development.
Strategic alliances with existing partners such as the Botanical Society and WWF-SA have been expanded with strong joint projects with Conservation International, the Table Mountain Fund and the UKUVUKA Firestop Campaign.
The receipt of R2.2 million from the Poverty Relief Project via the DEA&T has made possible the launch of the first phase of new capital developments in the NBI's northern Gardens. An excellent new Environmental Education Centre plus a new Visitors' Centre at Pretoria NBG will dramatically improve school and visitor services at this strategically positioned Garden. Further developments in the Witwatersrand and Lowveld NBGs are in an advanced stage of planning for implementation in the coming financial year.It is a pleasure for me to take this opportunity to thank the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, my NBI Board members and the NBI staff for their continued support and leadership.
P. Nevhutalu (Dr)
Chairperson, NBI Board