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Now’s your chance to visit a national botanical garden for free this weekend

Situated on the Eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is internationally acclaimed as one of the seven most magnificent botanical gardens in the world. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Situated on the Eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is internationally acclaimed as one of the seven most magnificent botanical gardens in the world. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 26, 2022

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South African cities are joining more than 400 others around the world in the 2022 City Nature Challenge by inviting people to experience, enjoy and record the biodiversity, beauty and bounty of natural places in cities.

The 2022 City Nature Challenge runs from April 29 through to May 2 this year and is being supported in South Africa by the 11 national botanical gardens that are opening their gates for free on those days.

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“South Africa is one of the world’s top three most biodiverse countries. This immense biodiversity is there for all to enjoy in our beautiful national botanical gardens,” said Nontsikelelo Mpulo, director of marketing, communication and commercialisation at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi).

The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

“Sanbi is proud to be participating in the 2022 City Nature Challenge and is proud, too, of the critical role each of the national gardens plays in protecting and showcasing the astonishingly rich biodiversity of our country,” Mpulo said.

Free entry to the gardens, she says, is not only to allow people to participate in the exciting and fun global City Nature Challenge, but also to make these gems of biodiversity in the heart of the nation’s cities accessible to as many South Africans as possible.

This year the City Nature Challenge is emphasising the importance of human observation in natural spaces.

“It’s all about getting up really close to the intricate details of the natural garden,” Mpulo said.

The Sisulu Circle Garden in Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort, is a tribute to the late Walter Sisulu. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

“So often our eye is drawn to the large, sweeping and beautiful vista of a garden. But real wonder also lies in the intricacy of how petals are arranged in living flowers; of the many, many different shades of green on one tree; and of the activity of pollinators and other garden creatures.”

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South Africans can join millions of people all over the world by posting their photos, videos and other material to the global City Nature Challenge platform, which is easily accessed by downloading the City Nature Challenge app.

Participating gardens:

  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Cape Town).
  • Hantam National Botanical Garden (near Nieuwoudtville).
  • Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden (Roodepoort).
  • Harold Porter National Botanical Garden (Betty’s Bay).
  • Free State, KZN and Pretoria National Botanical Gardens.
  • Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden (close to Worcester).
  • Lowveld National Botanical Garden (Mbombela).
  • Kwelera National Botanical Garden (East London).
  • National botanical garden in Thohoyandou.

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