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4. About Southern Africa


South African National Biodiversity Institute
The mission of SANBI is t
o promote the sustainable use, conservation, appreciation and enjoyment of the exceptionally rich biodiversity of South Africa, for the benefit of all people. Their web site provides information about South Africa's plants, botanical gardens (including Kirstenbosch) and herbaria.

Membership Society Botanical Society of South Africa
BotSoc membership includes four journals "Veld & Flora" with the latest plant conservation news and sometimes articles about succulents. It also has adverts for SA accommodation, plant, seed & book lists. Post: Botanical Society of South Africa, Kirstenbosch, Private Bag X10, Claremont 7735, SA.
Botanical Artists I enjoy seeing good botanical paintings and there are a number of excellent artists in SA. The Botanical Artists' Society of South Africa (BAASA) web site has few paintings alas, but does provide contact details for artists.
Conservation Programmes
The Biodiversity Programmes, Policy and Planning Directorate at SANBI is in charge of overall South African conservation policy and planning. See also the BGIS Conservation Planning Unit (CPU) for interesting reports and maps. In-situ conservation of plants is implemented through bioregional programmes, with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and others.
Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme Logo
Tourism Web Sites
On-line Photo Travelogues
On-line Environmental Overviews
  • South African Environmental Atlas
    ENPAT atlas in plain language from the SA Government Dept. of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Covers a wide range including topography, geology, biomes, vegetation, rainfall for SA nationally and each province individually. Excellent, but A3 maps do take a while to download.
  • Namibian Environmental Atlas
    Atlas for Namibia. Try the .gif maps, but full detail needs a GIS viewer e.g.
ENPAT logo
Topographical Maps
  • South African Sheet Maps
    Excellent printed maps are available, published by the Government Printer for the Chief Directorate of Surveys and Mapping, Post: Private Bag X10, Mowbray, 7705 South Africa. E-mail : I always travel with 1:250,000 sheets so I don't get lost! The 1:500,000 sheets are also very detailed and a set costs less. Best purchased in person at a SA government office e.g. Mowbray, Cape Town to save postage costs.
  • Reader's Digest Atlas of Southern Africa
    If you can't get the paper sheets above, this large atlas provides a set of the 1:500,000 sheets bound together, plus more. The index makes a good gazetteer. Heavy! First edition (1984) ISBN 0 947 008 02 0. Alas, even the second edition is no longer available as new.
  • Interactive On-line Map Websites
    Listed on the web site. These are slow to operate from the UK.
Geological Maps SA Council for Geoscience
Select "Information" from the top menu bar, then select "Publications" and "Maps". 1:250,000 sheet maps are available, but full coverage of South Africa is not yet finished at this scale. Also available digitised. Office in Bellville, Cape Town. Expensive, but fascinating for plant explorers!
Vegetation Maps
  • On-line Vegetation Maps
    This describes the vegetation types in each biome of South Africa, from A.B. Low & A.G. Rebelo (1998) ISBN 0-621-17316-9.
  • Vegetation Book & Digital Map
    In 2006, an interesting, detailed, book "The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland" was published as Strelitzia 19 at
    SANBI, by Mucina & Rutherford, ISBN-13:978-1-919976-21-1. This includes a CD with a digitised version of the new VegMap including a GIS viewer ArcReader. Worth buying.
Vegetation of South Africa book
Plant List
Plants of Southern Africa Book
Past & Present Weather
  • South African Weather Service
    Has it rained on those Adromischus plants in habitat? Select "National Weather and Forecasts" from the top menu bar and try previous monthly "Rainfall Maps" towards the bottom of the page.
    Easy-to-use site to find the current weather in South Africa.
South Africa
  • Ananzi .ZA Search
    Search engine and directory focussed upon the South African ".za" Internet domain name.
    Extensive official gateway to SA Government and private web sites from their Marketing Council.
  • South African History
    On-line chronology of South Africa, from San occupation through European settlement to the present.
  • SA National Parks
    South African National Parks (SANParks) represent the indigenous fauna, flora, landscapes and associated cultural heritage of the country. Most parks offer remote accommodation.

Last Updated: Dec 2007
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© 2007 Derek Tribble, London, UK