The multifunctional Visitors ’ Centre, Botanical Society Conservatory, Millennium Glasshouses, workshops and old Compton Herbarium fill the land between the new Rhodes Drive and the historic avenue of Morton Bay Figs and Camphor Trees.
The final project in the major infrastructure development programme was a consequence of the successful partnership model that NBI had followed in establishing itself as a lead player in South Africa’s biodiversity sector. The Kirstenbosch Research Centre (KRC), with its Compton Herbarium, Molteno Library, Allan Bird Ecology Laboratory, Leslie Hill Molecular Laboratory, plus conference and workshop facilities, had attracted a vibrant network of conservation scientists from many governmental and non-governmental agencies. Kirstenbosch had already become a hub of new cooperative programmes, with the secretariats of these organisations housed in various corners of the Garden. To achieve the maximum ‘critical mass’ of this energy, a proposal was made to the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation, a charitable trust in the United Kingdom, for a grant to build a Centre for Biodiversity Conservation adjoining the KRC. The proposal was strongly supported, on the understanding that the facility would be reserved for NBI’s partner NGOs and collaborative projects based at Kirstenbosch. A grant of R12 million was made and the new centre opened on 1 September 2005.
The Kirstenbosch Development Campaign was a resounding success. The approach of ‘strategic opportunism’ resulted in the full diversity of the Garden’s infrastructural needs being met through a combination of individual private donations, corporate sponsorships and government grants. Of the R62.7 million invested between 1992 and 2005, R33.7 million (53 per cent) came from donations. The power of the partnerships created through the campaign had lasting results (as we will examine in chapter 10). From being 86 per cent dependent on government grants for the operations of the Garden when Huntley took over management of the NBI in 1990, Kirstenbosch Garden was operating at a profit by 2006, when he stepped down from the position of CEO in order to facilitate transformation in the Institute.
Trips To Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden All Inclusive Photo Gallery
But resources and skills were not concentrated on buildings alone. Kirstenbosch’s unique ‘competitive advantage’ over other gardens around the globe is the combination of horticultural talent with the wide palette of colour, form and long-flowering behaviour of our flora. Unlike most ‘northern’ plants, our proteas, ericas, agapanthus, aloes, etc, ensure a continuous display of colour all year. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Kirstenbosch team had, under the leadership of Curator John Winter, greatly expanded the range and display of species and cultivars. By the end of the millennium, Kirstenbosch had new plantings of a wide diversity of restios – new to horticulture since the discovery of their germination cues. Sweeps of many Plectranthus species added colour to the tones of green in the Dell, while landscaping around new buildings both softened and enhanced their impact.
Initially a flora- and vegetation-focused organisation, the NBI took advantage of the changing field of conservation science – and the opportunities that arose with major funding from the Global Environment Facility – to develop large, multidisciplinary, longer-term programmes. From early in the 1990s it had championed strong partnerships and adopted a ‘managed network’ business model.
With the increasing flow of investment into democratic South Africa and many new opportunities being offered – and given NBI’s record of good corporate management – NBI was becoming the preferred partner to head up large and complex programmes. It provided co-ordination, management and ‘honest broker’ support. By the end of the decade, it was administering over R150 million in donor funds for projects such as the Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE), the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (SKEP), the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) and the incipient Grasslands Biome Project.
NBI also explored new approaches to bioregional programmes, leading discussion on new concepts such as ‘mainstreaming’ and ‘sustainable landscapes’. The Centre for Biodiversity Conservation at Kirstenbosch housed the secretariats of CAPE, SKEP, GISP, the WWF Table Mountain Fund, Conservation International’s Southern African Hotspots Programme, and IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. By 2005 it had 11 partner organisations working out of the shared facilities in Kirstenbosch, and many more organisations regularly using its conference rooms for scientific meetings, conservation planning workshops and to celebrate project successes.