The roots of the Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society go back more than 100 years.
It all started on 15 June 1913, when at a public meeting in Cape Town, it was resolved to form a Botanical Society to raise funds to develop a space for nature in Cape Town – to be known as the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. As such, the Kirstenbosch Branch became the first branch of this national civil society organisation, known as BotSoc, although it was not formally called a branch at that stage.
Just under a month later, on 13 July 1913 the Kirstenbosch Estate was handed over to an established board of trustees. It was their task to establish the garden, led by the first director, Professor Harold Pearson.
Getting creative in World War I
When World War I became a reality, BotSoc volunteers had to continue to drive the development of Kirstenbosch, at a time when funds simply weren’t available. They got creative, with volunteers collecting firewood, acorns and soil, which they sold to help fund the garden’s creation.
Even in 1914, it was recognised that the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden would become one of the most impressive botanic gardens in the world – thanks to the work of the BotSoc volunteers.
Preventing unsustainable harvesting
In 1939, BotSoc took on a new role: that of law enforcer. This lasted until 1951 – where BotSoc supported the promulgation and enforcement specifically of laws against unsustainable harvesting of wildflowers. This was later transferred to the Western Cape Department of Nature Conservation, today known as CapeNature.
In another milestone on our journey, the Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society separated its operations from the BotSoc national office in 1985 – the official launch date of the Kirstenbosch Branch.
An independent NGO
During 2021 the Kirstenbosch Branch, in terms of its Constitution adopted in 2019, became an independent registered non-profit organisation (NPO no 250-726) and a registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO). As a separate legal entity, we therefore manage our own financial and operational affairs.
However, while independent we still subscribe to and support the objectives of the mother body, The Botanical Society of South Africa. And it’s our mandate to raise funds for capital development at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, one of the ten national gardens managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
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