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Botanical Society of South Africa launches Learning about Cycads, an environmental education resource

On Monday, 12th March, the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) launched Learning about Cycads, a new environmental education resource developed for schools and learning institutions, in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.

Learning about cycads

Learning about Cycads, a guide to environmental activities, is a unique collaboration between the BotSoc and the Primary School Science Programme. The resource was officially launched by Minister of Education in the Western Cape, Debbie Shafer, who gave the keynote address.

The resource focuses on the endangered Cycads, one of South Africa’s most threatened plant species. It provides schools with the materials and resources they need to incorporate the importance of endangered plant species into the curriculum.

Comments Zaitoon Rabaney, Executive Director of the Botanical Society of South Africa, ‘’ The resource has been designed for learners to increase their awareness of how to interact with our environment in a responsible manner, and to better understand our cultural and natural heritage. This unique project has been in planning and motion for many months, and we are all very excited to finally be able to launch this special resource. We believe it will not only make an impact in the classrooms, but also out in the field.’’

Environmental education

The key focus of Learning about Cycads is to support environmental education within the curriculum. Also to resource, train and support teachers in the promotion and awareness of plant conservation in meaningful ways. In addition, it directs attention to understanding the threats facing our indigenous fauna and flora. There is special reference to cycads as part of our cultural and natural heritage.

Comments Minister of Education in the Western Cape, Debbie Shafer, ‘’I would like to thank the Botanical Society of South Africa, in partnership with the Primary Science Programme, for developing this training resource that will encourage environmental education in our schools. It will promote awareness about indigenous plants and specifically focus on cycads, and emphasise certain environmental education concepts, which are generally found in the Life & Living and Biology topics to complement the curriculum. Through the use of this resource, learners can engage in interactive learning. They can partake in hands-on-activities that can spark their imagination and unlock their creativity.‘’

During the launch, Dr Zorina Dharsey, Executive Director of the Primary Schools Programme, further elaborated on the importance of civil society and government collaborations towards common objectives and mandates. Dr John Donaldson, Chief Director of Applied Biodiversity Research Division, also spoke as the cycad expert and discussed the action plans of cycad conservation and how we all have a role to play.