The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) programme is a citizen science initiative that involves members of the South African public in the surveying, monitoring and conservation of plants. Founded in 2003, as a collaboration between the SANBI and the Botanical Society of South Africa, CREW operates in priority parts of the South African landscape.

With the help of passionate citizen scientists who make valuable contributions to the field of botanical research across South Africa, the CREW programme is able to survey and document the occurrence of plant taxa/species of conservation concern (ToCC), and identify which endemic plants require conservation.

The programme links citizen scientists with their local conservation agencies and particularly with local land stewardship initiatives to ensure the conservation of key sites for threatened plant species. The detailed data collected by CREW citizen scientists is extensively used for feeding into national and international reporting on the status of biodiversity via the IUCN Red List. In addition, occurrence records for threatened plants inform land-use decision making and protected area expansion prioritisation on an ongoing basis.

How does CREW operate?

  • CREW works with groups of volunteers who are capacitated to look for threatened plants in the field, with the aid of field identification sheets.
  • Volunteers systematically survey sites with natural vegetation, and in the process identify the properties with natural vegetation in the best condition and with the highest concentration of endemic species.
  • Data collected by CREW volunteers is used to update information of threatened plants for Red Listing and land-use planning.
  • CREW provides general plant identification courses as well as field training.
  • CREW groups work closely with local land use decision-makers, landowners and government conservation extension staff to create awareness of the important plant species found on their land and are able to catalyse deals to conserve area.

CREW resources

                       Plants in Peril cover             
  CREW newsletter 2022               Plants in peril                     CREW operations manual

Plants in Peril coffee table book was published to mark the CREW programme’s 10th anniversary and the Botanical Society’s centenary. The book profiles 100 critically endangered plants – one for every year of BotSoc’s centenary – and aims to highlight the factors threatening their survival and raise awareness of the actions required for their conservation.



CREW newsletters

CREW Newsletter – 2023 CREW Newsletter – 2021 CREW Newsletter – 2014 CREW Newsletter – 2009
CREW Newsletter – 2020 CREW Newsletter – 2013 CREW Newsletter – 2007
CREW Newsletter – 2019 CREW Newsletter – 2012 CREW Newsletter – 2007
CREW Newsletter – 2018 CREW Newsletter – 2011 CREW Newsletter – 2006
CREW Newsletter – 2015 CREW Newsletter – 2010 CREW Newsletter – 2005


Annual Reports

CREW Programme Annual Report 2021 CREW Programme Annual Report 2018/19
CREW Programme Annual Report 2020 CREW Programme Annual Report 2017/18
CREW Programme Annual Report 2019 CREW Programme Annual Report 2016/17
CREW Programme Review: 2019

How can you become involved?

Citizens monitoring and conserving our plants


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