Kirstenbosch Outreach Greening Programme
The mission of the National Botanical Institute's Outreach Greening Programme is to empower communities with horticultural skills and environmental knowledge

The NBI views its gardens as GARDENS FOR THE NATION. The Outreach Greening Programme was developed in response to various needs in communities with greening initiatives. It is a tool in making the Institute's facilities and expertise available to the people of South Africa.


1. To develop ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS leading to an understanding of the relationship between people and their environment.

Many communities live in difficult economic and environmental conditions. Vast areas have been cleared of native vegetation and replaced with informal settlements and a constant increase in human activity. To aid in the regeneration of these degraded ecosystems the NBI serves communities as an information resource on how they can contribute to putting back into the environment. This information is transferred through practical workshops and individual consultation sessions with school and community groups.


2. To ESTABLISH SCHOOL GARDENS for environmental education as an extension of formal education in the classroom.

Programme participants are coached on how to plan their garden, prepare the soil, propagate plants and basic maintenance techniques. Each group experiences their individual problems and limitations, which therefore forces them to develop their project using the resources available to them using the most efficient methods. The NBI provides the initial materials and ongoing training on how to use the gardens in activity based lessons to achieve specific lesson outcomes. Workshops with teachers generate enthusiasm and many ideas on how they can use the gardens in learning programmes.


3. To promote gardening as a DEVELOPMENTAL PROCESS in which evaluation leads to learning and improvement.

The programme encourages different individuals to work together on a variety of hands-on activities within their projects. In this way they gain confidence to voice their opinions on various issues and are then able to share with and teach others.

Active involvement in this greening programme makes participants realize that each stakeholder has a role to play. This realization leaves people with a sense of group achievement and a commitment to making a continued contribution.

4. To PLANT INDIGENOUS, WATER-WISE PLANTS that occur naturally in the area, in order to promote ecological sustainability.

Indigenous plants are adapted to surviving the prevailing harsh conditions. It has therefore been vital to the success of the school and community gardens to use them.

Physically growing these plants and monitoring their success has provided the Institute with the opportunity to develop a list of the hardiest species to be used in these areas in the future.

5. To DEVELOP GREENING PARTNERSHIPS involving schools, communities, sponsors, and the NBI. Launching into a project where people with different backgrounds and objectives have to work together can be very difficult. This is the reason why one of our chief objectives is to develop meaningful interactions between the various partners within the programme.

It is the Institute's privilege to work with people who are determined to improve conditions for their families and communities. In the process of enabling school communities to green their environment, we have learnt extremely valuable lessons about the basics and realities of life - interactions with people and the earth that provides for us.

This type of approach has been incredibly rewarding for all partners, especially when the enthusiasm within the programme is able to reach those in the townships, in the informal settlements, in between the closely packed corrugated iron homes.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute
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