Celebrating Biodiversity Day in Kirstenbosch

26 May 2017

“What better way to celebrate the International Day of Biological Diversity than to have 100 Grade 5s – all first time visitors - attend a fun-filled morning of activities in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden?”

Hosted by the Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre, learners from Beverley Park Primary and Blackheath Primary in Eerste Rivier arrived at the garden at 9h00, with bright smiles and literally bubbling with excitement at what the day might hold in store for them. And they were not disappointed, if the messages they wrote on their banners at the end of the day were anything to go by.

Biodiversity Day

Pic: Learners from Beverley Park Primary and Blackheath Primary during International Day of Biological Diversity celebration.

Led by SANBI, Gold Fields Centre education officers, garden interns and Botanical Society of South Africa volunteers, the learners moved through four activities, ranging from the making of biodiversity crowns in the Dell, creation of food web puzzles in the forest, the matching of plants and their uses in the Useful Plants Garden and discovery of the clever adaptations of Fynbos plants to their environment. The Garden rang with the cries of “biodiversity” each time an activity was completed.

Learners from one school were paired with a new friend from the other school, and it did not take more than a few minutes before they were on first name terms and exhorting their partner to hurry, hurry to find the matching useful plant or complete another task. With both schools from the same area, we hope that some lasting bonds were formed on the day.

In the final activity of the morning, learners wrote messages about what they had learnt or enjoyed during the day and what they would do to ensure that the biodiversity remained for future generations. Some commented on how beautiful and peaceful parts of the garden are, while others said that the plants and animals are precious and they would not throw litter that might damage the biodiversity. Many hoped that their families would come to the Garden for a day, to enjoy it at leisure.

Both Mrs Swartz and Mrs Hammond, who gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the two schools, commented on the life changing experience this day had been for many of their learners – a day they would never forget. They praised the efforts made by the SANBI Biodiversity Education and Empowerment Directorate in exposing learners to such a beautiful environment and conducting fun, educational activities.

Zaitoon Rabaney, Chief Executive Officer of the Botanical Society of South Africa, which is a valuable supporter of many of the SANBI educational outreach activities, appeared quite overwhelmed at the sincerity of many of the messages written by the learners. She encouraged them to continue to value our vast South African biodiversity.

Sally Hey and Roleen Ellman of the Gold Fields Centre gave special thanks to the learners and also to the team who had led the activities throughout the morning. Although, looking at the faces of the volunteers, it was difficult to tell whether they or the children had had the better time – with broad smiles all round.

Biodiversity Day 1

Pic: Learners exploring Kirstenbosch.

Both schools were presented with a range of gifts at the end of the morning – indigenous plants for their school grounds, Fynbos posters and booklets from the Botanical Society of SA, and many educational books, leaflets, brochures, and classroom activities from the Gold Fields Education Centre.

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