28 September 2007
South Africa’s ninth national botanical garden, the Nieuwoudtville National Botanical Garden, has been officially unveiled in the Northern Cape, where it will serve as a centre for biodiversity research in the world-renowned Bokkeveld Plateau.
Speaking at the unveiling in August, Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the SA National Biodiversity Institute would use the garden “to promote nature-based tourism, the conservation of the area’s unique biodiversity, environmental education opportunities and long-term ecological research in this botanical hotspot of global significance.”
Located on the farm Glenlyon, the garden covers over 6 300 hectares of land on the Bokkeveld Plateau, which is famous for its range and density of bulbous plants, to the extent that Nieuwoudtville is often referred to as the “bulb capital of the world”.
Some 40% of the local flora consists of bulbs that create spectacular displays every autumn and spring. The garden also incorporates large natural patches of renosterveld fynbos and succulent karoo vegetation.
Almost a third of the species endemic to the Bokkeveld Plateau are threatened with extinction.
The purchase of the farm Glenlyon was made possible by funding from the SA government, Conservation International through the Global Conservation Fund, and the Leslie Hill Succulent Karoo Trust through the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa).
South Africa’s first national botanical garden, Kirstenbosch, was established in 1913; its eighth, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort/Mogale City, Gauteng province, was established in 1982.
National botanical gardens have been defined internationally as institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education.
The Nieuwoudtville National Botanical Garden will open to the public from January 2008.