One of the major priorities of SANBI is to generate appropriate botanical information on the immensely rich and diverse southern Africa flora and vegetation through selected research programmes. These programmes fall under the research component of the NBI, namely in the Research and Scientific Services Directorate (RSSD) which is spread across three units in Pretoria, Kirstenbosch and Durban.
In essence, all activities of the RSSD are aimed at reaching the following objectives:
The RSSD is divided into two subdirectorates, one for Plant Systematics and the other for Plant Ecology and Conservation. Systematics research groups are accommodated at the National Herbarium in Pretoria, the KwaZulu-Natal Herbarium in Durban and the Compton Herbarium at the Kirstenbosch Research Centre (KRC).
This new centre at Kirstenbosch also houses the Ecology and Conservation Subdirectorate which implements programmes in conservation biology and conservation farming, climate change, desertification, and horticultural research, to name a few. The Leslie Hill Laboratory and DNA Bank also form part of the KRC
In addition to programmes dealing with systematics, the Systematics Subdirectorate currently administers programmes in ethnobotany, data and herbarium management, libraries services, and research support. The Millennium Seed Bank Project also forms part of this Directorate.
African Plants Initiative (API) is a new programme undertaken in conjunction with the Mellon Foundation
Human resource aspects such as student training and capacity building, transformation, and occupational health and safety also form part of the core responsibilities of the RSSD.
Under the auspices of the NBI, the RSSD has been steadily refining and adapting its research activities to meet the various botanical needs of the southern African community. Today, with a scientific staff and research support component of more than 130, this relatively young Institute is the single most important organisation addressing selected botanical research issues in the subcontinent.
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