The Uniqueness of South African Plant Diversity and The Role of Botanical Gardens in Plant Conservation

  • Duration: 60
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: November 05, 2020 20:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
Sold out

Plants are a vital natural resource that have a critical role in supporting life on Earth. They release oxygen into the atmosphere, absorb carbon dioxide, provide habitat and food for wildlife and humans, and regulate the water cycle. Despite this important function, the effects of climate change are increasingly becoming a threat causing the extinction of many plant species. Botanical gardens have become a sanctuary for thousands of species as the need for the conservation and protection of plant species is at an all-time high throughout the world. South Africa is host to nine rich biomes which provide an extensive network of data that is used for research. Join Prof William Bond (UCT), Prof Susanne Vetter (Rhodes University) and Dr Donovan Kirkwood (Stellenbosch University) as they unpack our rich plant diversity and the vital role that botanical gardens play in conservation.


Prof Susi Vetter

Prof Susi Vetter is an ecologist in the Botany Department at Rhodes University. Her research interests are interdisciplinary and include vegetation change, bush encroachment, rangeland dynamics and the cultural importance of nature and biodiversity. While based on fundamental work to understand vegetation dynamics and human-environment interactions, her research also has a strong applied dimension aimed at informing policy and management. Her other interests include history, hiking, trail running and exploring the wonders of nature with her sons Giles (11) and Eric (8).

Prof William Bond

William Bond is an Emeritus Professor in Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town. He served as Chief Scientist for the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) from 2014 to 2018. He is an ecologist with broad interests in the processes most strongly influencing vegetation change in the past and present, including fire, vertebrate herbivory, atmospheric CO2 and climate change. In addition, Professor Bond has worked on plant-animal mutualisms and on plant form and function. Particular research interests include grasslands and savannas, and winter-rainfall shrublands. Prof. Bond has served on the Boards of the South African National Biodiversity Institute and of Cape Nature and on editorial boards of several journals. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific publications (h-index of 95, Google Scholar) and is author or co-author of four books. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences.  


Dr Donovan Kirkwood

Donovan Kirkwood got a PhD in ecology from UCT in 2003 and has worked as a protected areas and landscape ecologist for CapeNature before moving into spatial analysis and mapping to support protected area planning, landscape prioritisation, and land-use planning. Ongoing habitat loss and degradation despite excellent policy, legislation and spatial plans led to a career crisis and change of direction to become curator of the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden in 2018, with the hope that showcasing our wonderful biodiversity, and supporting students, research and targeted species conservation might be a more effective and positive approach to the accelerating extinction crisis.