Conservation is nothing without the conservationists. This career can take one from roles as diverse as fundraising and marketing for nonprofits to biodiversity monitoring of threatened species in the field. South Africa, as a megadiverse country, has more work than most to do than most and is a world leader in conservation practice and action. South Africa’s National Strategy for Plant Conservation Target 15 speaks to building capacity in best conserving the country’s flora. The Botanical Society of South Africa has embraced this need and is working hard on its implementation.
Above: Dr Rashieda Toefy and Professor Joseph Kioko speak on the official programme on behalf of CPUT
Last week a new memorandum of agreement was signed between the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Nature Conservation National Diploma programme. This marks the continuation of this project for a further three years and serves to build on six years of highly successful collaboration, supporting many promising students as they complete their training to enter the biodiversity sector. They are the conservationists of the future.
Through funding from BotSoc, students undertaking the Nature Conservation National Diploma are funded through the completion of a practical training programme to complement the more theoretical components of the course. This has meant that all students on the National Diploma could complete the practical training component of the course and those from less wealthy backgrounds who could not otherwise afford to participate were not excluded. The training is facilitated by a highly knowledgeable team from the City of Cape Town and uses the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust’s Zeekovlei Camp. The week long practical course encompasses many valuable applied skills of use to students in the workplace. It includes everything from using dart guns for baboon management to alien clearing and GPS mapping.
Above: Students who have completed the programme offer their feedback.
In addition to this, as part of the partnership BotSoc has also facilitated student visits to the SANBI herbarium and Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens. Copies of BotSoc’s Quarterly Journal, Veld and Flora are also made available to the Nature Conservation students at CPUT as well as identification guides for their use on practicals and field trips.
As Professor Joseph Kioko, Programme Director for the course said: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating….”. So, in this spirit the students attending the event spoke about their experiences participating in the programme and how it benefitted them. BotSoc’s funding of the programme was described by the students as “investing in their future”. It was said that their participation in the programme and valuable practical experience gained made them far better prepared for entering their first jobs in the conservation field.
Above: (Left to right) Dr Farieda Khan (Head of BotSoc Council) Professor Fatoki (Dean of Science, CPUT) and Zaitoon Rabaney (Executive Director, BotSoc) speak about the programme.
Students also said that the provision of learning resources such as Veld and Flora helped them by providing assistance in completing course assignments, building plant identification skills and cultivating a deep passion and interest for the rich world of conservation. Professor Kioko also commented: “BotSoc is investing in sustainable, tangible partnerships. It does not come better than this…”. All the students who attended wished to thank the BotSoc for the opportunity to participate in the programme.
Above: Staff and students of CPUT and BotSoc following signing the partnership MOU
Following this BotSoc’s Executive Director Zaitoon Rabaney spoke on her thoughts about the importance of and success of the programme. She opened with a quote by Denzel Washington: “At the end of the day, it is not about what you have, or even what you have accomplished. It is about who you have lifted and who you made feel better. It is about giving back”. Zaitoon then goes on to explain: One of the main objectives of the BotSoc is to win the hearts and minds to inspire passion and knowledge about South Africa’s indigenous flora. BotSoc aims to achieve this through people, passion and partnerships. When those three things are there, anything is possible, and the CPUT-BotSoc collaboration stands testament to this.
BotSoc would like to thank the donors who have so generously supported this project. We couldn’t do it without you!