Research and Scientific Services

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:

  • To discover, describe and study the diversity of southern African plants.
  • To serve national priorities as laid out in government policy and international conventions, by researching botanical resources that can assist in meeting basic human needs.
  • To explore means for utilising and safeguarding plant genetic and ecological resources for sustainable use in order to stimulate economic growth in South Africa.
  • To contribute to the building of botanical research capacity and infrastructure at all levels in southern Africa.

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.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute
Research Home