The Lowveld NBG was chosen as the venue for the opening ceremony of the African Peace through Tourism Conference held in March. This conference was attended by over 250 delegates from throughout Africa and gave the Garden exposure to numerous foreign tourism authorities.
In August it was announced that Tsogo Sun, developers of the casino complex adjacent to the Garden, would honour their commitment to sponsor developments to the amount of R5 million at the Lowveld NBG. Planning of the new facilities such as a visitors' centre, restaurant, shop, garden centre, education centre and parking areas commenced immediately and environmental impact assessments were set in motion.
The Grace Hall Bridge over the Crocodile River was upgraded at a cost of R275 000 and a section of the boardwalk in the African Rain Forest had to be rebuilt after being damaged by a hippopotamus on a nocturnal visit to the Garden.
Two major events held in the Garden annually, the Garden Festival organized by the Botanical Society and sponsored by SAPPI and the K-TV Market Day presented by M-Net, were held in tandem this year and jointly attracted a record number of visitors to the Garden.
Following the withdrawal of the previous organizers, the Friends of the Lowveld NBG stepped in to take over the running of the music concerts and three concerts were successfully presented during the year.
World Wetland Day was celebrated in the Garden with an educational programme presented by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment and sponsored by SAPPI. The day was attended by 140 learners from seven local schools. During Arbor Week a number of trees were planted at local schools attended by children of the garden staff.
Numerous successful collecting trips were undertaken by staff, including one to Maputaland that netted three difficult-to-find tree species still outstanding from the Garden's collection. Another collecting trip to the Northern Province uncovered the very rare Cleome oxyphylla subsp. robusta, which has excellent horticultural potential. Staff also assisted members of the Kew Millennium Seed Bank Project on joint collecting trips.
A Lowveld NBG staff member was called upon to give input to the Mpumalanga Parks Board on its policy on confiscation of plants and their re-introduction to the wild, as well as to assist the South African Police Services with identification of cycads in a major cycad smuggling case in the United States.