Education and the National Botanical Gardens
Education is defined as one of the key functions of a botanical garden. South Africa’s national botanical gardens have been serving an education role for learners, teachers and the general public for many decades. In recent years new environmental education centres have been built in the Walter Sisulu, Pretoria, Free State and Lowveld National Botanical Gardens, allowing dedicated education staff to be housed and garden-based programmes to be hosted in the various NBGs. This has allowed the expansion of the formal education programmes to gardens beyond Kirstenbosch.
Recent initiatives during the past ten years include the development and expansion of outreach greening programmes, extending beyond the boundaries of the botanical gardens. Much of the focus to date has involved working together with local communities to ‘green’ disadvantaged schools in township areas in Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg using indigenous plants.
In order to promote and share South Africa’s rich cultural diversity with visitors, South Africa’s national botanical gardens have been developing demonstration gardens with associated cultural buildings. They serve to promote the association of various cultures with South Africa’s indigenous plants. These range from useful plants and medicinal gardens to traditional structures.