During the year under review, the National Botanical Institute successfully pursued its parliamentary mandate, promoting the appreciation, enjoyment and conservation of South africa's plant life through its eight National Botanical Gardens (NBGs) as well as through its extensive research, outreach and education activities.
The various branches of the NBI dealing with environmental education continued to make increased progress, with numerous initiatives in outreach greening and environmental awareness. There was a strong emphasis on shared knowledge and interaction leading to improved collaboration both between the northern and southern gardens and also between the various gardens and schools, universities, and other role-players.
Research staff of the National Botanical Institute remained consistently productive with the publication, once again, of over 200 scientific papers. In excess of 11 000 plants were identified by the National Botanical Institute at its three herbaria.
In most of the Gardens, upgrading of buildings, irrigation systems, theme gardens and visitor facilities took place, many of these due to kind and generous sponsorships and donations.
SABONET (the Southern African Botanical Diversity Network), under the auspices of the NBI, continued in its objective of increasing
the professional expertise of botanists throughout southern Africa. This was done by means of training courses, field expeditions and support for postgraduate students studying in this field.
The Marketing and Communication staff continued to explore new ways of encouraging visitors to the Gardens. A new full colour brochure was produced and distributed at some key tourism information points (Johannesburg International Airport and Cape Town Tourism). It was also included in press kits supplied to visiting media representatives. The brochure was also distributed at the major tourism expo, Indaba in Durban in May 2000.
The NBI has adapted its policy with regard to skills training so as to comply with the NQF (National Qualifications Framework). This has meant registration with the Tourism, Hospitality and Sport, Education and Training Authority (THETA). Training in Occupational Health and Safety as well HIV/AIDS awareness took place at all the Gardens.
Visit by NBI External Review Group
Between 28 September and 3 October 2000, an independent, international External Review Group, consisting of Professors Julian Agyeman, Peter Crane and James Seyani,
Mr Mark Richardson, Ms Angelinah Phaliso (representing the NBI Board) and Ms Stella Simiyu visited five of the eight Gardens.
The Gardens visited were Kirstenbosch NBG, Karoo Desert NBG, Harold Porter NBG, Witwatersrand NBG and the Pretoria NBG.