Making science relevant to everyday issues received a boost from the Fynbos Biome Project (1970s-1990s). The legacy of this project has been continued through the Fynbos Forum, where researchers, land managers and civil society discuss issues of importance to the sustainable use of fynbos ecosystems. Although Kirstenbosch researchers played no part in the Fynbos Biome Project itself, the KRC and the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC), have provided the institutional and physical home for the audaciously ambitious, and highly successful Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE) programme. This massive programme was conceived and initiated by the strong team of environmental scientists and managers who cut their teeth on the Fynbos Biome Project. Seizing the opportunities offered by a new political dispensation and access to unprecedented funding available from the Global Environment Facility, the team planned a far-reaching strategy for the 20-year project, launched in 2000. The history of the programme, and the contributions of the 100-plus people who made it happen, are presented in the publication Fynbos Fynmense – people making biodiversity work, published by SANBI in 2006.
Kirstenbosch Map Road Photo Gallery
Biodiversity for Development – South Africa’s landscape approach to conserving biodiversity and promoting ecosystem resilience is a benchmark synthesis of work resulting from several decades in co-operative conservation programmes facilitated by SANBI.
CAPE epitomises the value of sharing resources. Kirstenbosch researchers, horticulturists, environmental educators and managers each contributed in small but meaningful ways towards the programme’s success. When the full scale of the investment in the programme – over R100 million -became evident, it crystallised the need for a Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, physically linked to the KRC, as a stable, robust home for the programme. The generous support of a UK charitable trust – the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation – provided the R12 million needed to construct the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation, which is home to CAPE, the Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (SKEP), the Table Mountain Fund and Conservation International’s Southern African Hotspots programme. The CBC’s conference and workshop facilities have become a melting pot for debate and development of new ideas and projects, a vibrant centre for intellectual growth, political dialogue and pragmatic action. SANBI’s leadership in mainstreaming biodiversity concepts into economic planning, through its role in producing the country’s first National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment in 2004 and the second in 2011, its first Protected Area Expansion Strategy, and the synthesis of lessons learned (published as a benchmark volume titled Biodiversity for Development -South Africa’s landscape approach to conserving biodiversity and promoting ecosystem resilience), place both Kirstenbosch and the Institute at the centre of innovation and relevance.
From humble beginnings, Kirstenbosch has expanded its science programme far beyond its origins in traditional plant taxonomy, through vegetation ecology, global-change modelling and molecular biology, to the full spectrum of planning and policy processes that link science to society. In the World Bank’s foreword to Fynbos Fynmense, the success of South African projects such as CAPE -and of Kirstenbosch, as a microcosm of the organisation – is summarised thus: Good scientific information and subsequent awareness raising; institutional capacity and commitment; strategic cross-sectoral co-ordination and public-private partnerships; and entrepreneurship by the conservation community in seizing the opportunities to demonstrate that good biodiversity management is good for the economy, good for local development and good for business.
These words apply to Kirstenbosch as a microcosm of the CAPE programme – where science meets society.
By the 1970s, many small buildings had appeared across the Kirstenbosch landscape, as indicated in this map from the detailed Kirstenbosch Development Study (1973), funded by the Botanical Society and presented to the Board by architect Gabriel Fagan and his team of consultants.
The charming Stone Cottages , built as accommodation for Garden staff in 1919, now provide office accommodation for the Kirstenbosch branch of the Botanical Society.