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South African World Heritage Sites inspire this year’s Kirstenbosch – SA Chelsea Flower Show exhibit

April 14, 2011

BOTANICAL LANDSCAPES is the theme for the 2011 Kirstenbosch – South Africa exhibit to the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show in London. Inspired by two of the eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa, this display will mark the 36th year of our exhibiting at what is known as the “Olympics” of Flower Shows. Visitors to the show from 24 to 27 May will once again delight in the exotic and innovative South African entry.

Without the swift intervention of the Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) and the SA Gold Coin Exchange it was doubtful that South Africa would exhibit this year due to a lack of funding. Thankfully the two sponsors came to the rescue and have generously ensured that South Africa’s long run remains unbroken.

Designers David Davidson and Raymond Hudson have once again identified areas of interest that make for a fascinating display. Two of South Africa’s most iconic and diverse botanical landscapes form the subject of the display. Exceedingly rich in species diversity, and sharply contrasting in habitat – the Cape Floral Kingdom of the Western Cape and the arid, mountainous desert of the Northern Cape’s Richtersveld region, each provide a dramatic setting and some of the richest reservoirs of plant life on earth.

Both these World Heritage Sites are also biodiversity hotspots – of which there are only 25 worldwide – featuring an incredibly high diversity of species as well as endemism. The Succulent Karoo biome is the only arid biodiversity hotspot on Earth.

Table Mountain, that may soon become one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, and the dramatic ‘moonscapes’ of the remote and rugged Richtersveld provide the panoramic perspectives for these locations, and contoured staging of the exhibit creates platforms featuring the southernmost signature plants of the Cape Floral Kingdom’s fynbos flora, ranging from coastal to mountain vegetation as well as hotspot species from the arid north. Once more visitors will be able to experience a “step” into our landscape through the innovative design construction.

Always a well visited stand, The Kirstenbosch – SA entry has also become a vital link to improved economies in South Africa. Not only does the display illustrate a unique tourism destination but, by using local suppliers to supply a variety of components, jobs are created and small businesses supported.

Through the PGWC, the Khayelitsha-based ‘Township‘ project has produced eco-friendly bags that visitors to our stand will be able to collect. This, along with their story, is one more way that the global community experiences some of the extraordinary projects that are thriving in our country.

Plant material for the exhibit is sourced from various parts of the country and part of the mandate in sourcing this material is also to utilise in empowerment projects where possible. This year, Berghoff Boerdery, a sustainable fynbos farming project in Porterville, will be one of the suppliers. This valuable contact came from the PGWC and focuses once again on the economic benefit that this exhibit has for the country.

The Cape Floral Region section includes as wide an array of fynbos species as possible – depending on flowering times and availability. These include many members of the Proteaceae – numerous protea species as well as cultivars and new hybrids, leucadendrons (cone bushes), leucospermums (pincushions) if available, Pagoda plants (Mimetes) serrurias (Blushing Bride) and brunias.
Many other fynbos species also feature, such as heaths (Erica), ‘slangbos’ (Stoebe), restios, Nemesia, Lobelia, Osteospermum, Arctotis, Gazania, and Disa orchids. Various Renosterveld species, such as Elytropappus rhinocerotis (Renosterbos) will also be displayed.

The Namaqualand/Knersvlakte/Richtersveld section features a very special plant – Pachypodium namaquanum, the ‘halfmens’. The generic name Pachypodium is derived from the Greek word pachys meaning thick and podion meaning foot. The specific name namaquanum refers to Namaqualand, a semi-arid region in the northwest which is renowned for its spring displays of wild flowers. Other interesting species include the giant Bastard Quiver Tree (Aloe pilansii), Aloe rammosissima, Argyroderma and Conophytum species (stone plants), euphorbias and bulbous plants.

This year’s sponsors are delighted with the concept of the exhibit and are supporting and adding value to the project in many ways.

“The Western Cape has a thriving tourism industry, and we believe our participation at Chelsea serves as an invaluable advertisement for our Province as a tourism destination of note. We also want to make people aware of our campaign to have Table Mountain nominated as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, as well as Cape Town’s bid to be the 2014 Design Capital of the World. Chelsea is also the perfect platform to showcase our cut flower industry; this year also including flowers from a black economic empowerment farm”, says Gerrit van Rensburg, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Alan Demby, Chairman of the S A Gold Coin Exchange and the Scoin shops endorses this comment whilst adding: “Celebrating our floral heritage has always been a major feature of the Protea gold coins since the SA Mint brought out its first coin in the Protea series in 1986, celebrating the centenary of Johannesburg . To be able to contribute to a display such as this made good business sense as we operate both in South Africa and the UK with our unique chain of Scoin shops. Our ten years of democracy commemorative Gold Coin that features Nelson Mandela on the obverse and the king protea on the reverse is one of the most popular coins ever produced and was a complete sellout, Since its release in 2004, it has become over seven times more valuable,” he said. “To encourage our designers to win gold at the Chelsea Flower Show this year , we have decided to sponsor Mandela gold medallions as well .

Dr Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is enthusiastic about this year’s exhibit: “Our two major sponsors have enabled us to continue showing the world why they should be visiting South Africa” she says, “the diversity of our regions, the richness of our plant life, the value we put on our landscapes are major tourism factors. Above all we are able to show how this exhibit benefits all communities in the long term”.

Says Davidson: “Given South Africa’s diverse culture and history and her spectacular natural resources and wildlife, it is not surprising that it is home to eight World Heritage Sites. Of these the two sites chosen are the most divergent of the three natural sites, offering a fascinating mix of plantlife and a window on South Africa’s diversity. ”

Over the past 35 years the Kirstenbsoch SA exhibit has achieved 30 Gold medals, two Silver-Gilt medals and three Silver medals, as well as numerous other special awards for outstanding contributions, including the Lawrence Medal in 2006 for the ‘Best Exhibit shown to the Society’ in that year and the first recipient of the new ‘President’s Most Creative Award’ in 2008.

With high hopes for another medal the display is project managed by Sarah Struys, Events Manager at Kirstenbosch with the designers and a team from SANBI: Lufuno Konanani – horticulturist at the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden in Pietermaritzburg and Adam Harrower – horticulturist at Kirstenbosch. Enthusiastic volunteers from South Africa make their way to London to assist making the exhibit a truly passionate South African project.



April 11, 2011

Cape Town‘s Sporting Chance teams up with SA’s finest sponsors to give South African football an uplifting boost in local communities.

The final whistle of the FIFA 2010 World Cup has blown, but not for South Africa’s youth. As part of FIFA’s Ticket Fund legacy, “the beautiful game” plays on in the streets, with the launch of the annual Kia Street Soccer league programme in four major cities across the country.

On 15 April, Sporting Chance, in association with title sponsor KIA Motors and associate sponsors Foodzone, Dawn Wing, Supersport Let’s Play, Good Hope FM and East Coast Radio, will roll out the national neighbourhood street soccer programme that will reach 4500 boys and girls under the age of 13, empowering and exposing them to have a brighter future through the valuable lessons of sport. The teams will also get to meet their favourite South African football players throughout the three month tournament as they participate and assist with the programme, which will surely help street soccer in South Africa grow its positive influence.

Conceptualised and co-ordinated by youth sports development agency based in Cape Town, Sporting Chance, the Kia Street Soccer programme, supported by FIFA and SAFA, teaches life skills through the game of soccer, to kids who need it most, where they need it most.  Their communities in the 30 regions are rife with poverty and crime, lacking in adequate facilities or stimulating after-school and weekend activities. Thus making activities such as soccer in Soweto and the likes as highly beneficial to the communities it naturally thrives in.

“The street is the perfect venue for kids to come together and do something positive and healthy,” says Brad Bing, Managing Director of Sporting Chance.  “Many of them have no place to go where they can socialize in a safe and healthy environment.  Why not turn the streets we have for too long perceived as being dangerous, into a stage where life lessons can be taught, friendships forged and communities entertained?”

Kia Street Soccer games will hit neighbourhood streets with round robin matches in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Durban.  Twenty teams of six players each are entered into each regional league.  Round robin matches will be played for eight weeks, with weekly sessions of four matches, followed by a week of regional finals and ultimately, the Provincial Festival Finale, which takes place towards the end of June and is sure to be a South African football favourite.

Being healthy and keeping active are additional critical life skills taught by the programme and felt to be necessary due to the current absence of these subjects in the national schools’ curriculum. For the first phase of the programme a Health Education Road Show visited all the participating communities leading up to the second phase – the start of the  league. In addition to activities designed to show and share the importance of physical activity, nutrition, personal hygiene and TB awareness, the sessions also covered key issues of sports etiquette, conflict resolution, and environmental awareness, encouraging learners to take pride in their environment and recycle, not litter.

It isn’t only the kids who will benefit from this programme, says Brad Bing.  Local coaches and coordinators will be selected from each community and will receive training in coaching and crucial life skills.  In addition, a team of 800 are employed on a contractual basis throughout the duration of the Kia Street Soccer programme. “A national project of this scale requires a solid team on the ground to run and implement it and we’re extremely grateful to be in the position where we can create employment opportunities for so many members of the communities where the programme takes place,” adds Bing.

“The 2010 Soccer World Cup must be more than a pleasant memory for South Africans,” said Kia Motors South Africa CEO Ray Levin.  “It must leave a lasting legacy of promise, showing all South Africans that dreams can come true, even for the most humble.  This is the time to grab the excitement generated by Bafana Bafana and carry it through to grass roots level. Although these events aren’t on the level of FIFA’s, street soccer certainly has a community appeal as large as its benefits.”

Programme organiser Brad Bing concurs. “Sport is such a powerful catalyst in this country.  It truly has the power to transform lives.  Now is the time to capitalise on 2010’s soccer madness.”

For more information contact Natalie Pollock at Cape Town’s Sporting Chance on 021 683 7299, log onto, or join for regular updates.

Biodiversity Expo to feature information and projects on African Penguins

March 29, 2011

BirdLife South Africa will have a stand at the upcoming fourth Biodiversity Expo at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden from 5 to 8 May 2011.

Learning about the African Penguin and how you can assist in saving them from extinction is just one of the informative and fascinating projects that will be on display at this FREE Expo taking place at the Old Mutual Conference Centre.

There are many fascinating projects that the BirdLife South Africa Seabird Division, but the African Penguin is one that captures the imagination of all who have seen these highly visible and quirky birds. Unlike many other seabirds, the African Penguin is easy to find at two major Cape Town attractions, Boulders Beach and Robben Island, which are high on the list of attractions to visit when in Cape Town.

Many people do not realise that within their lifetime, this iconic species could become extinct! The African Penguin is officially listed as Endangered by the World Conservation Union (the IUCN).

Over the last 50 years the African Penguin population has declined by about 80% – from 141 000 pairs in the 1950s to less than 25 000 pairs in 2010! This is even more shocking considering that in the early 1900s it is thought that they numbered in the millions. It is vital the these declines are halted as the African Penguin is the only penguin species found in Africa and lives nowhere else but along the coast of South Africa and Namibia.

Scientists have suggested that the main reason for the decrease in recent times is a lack of food. Penguins eat mainly sardine and anchovy – fish which are targets of a large commercial fishery. Fishing effort has increased immensely in the last 50 years resulting in more fish being taken out of the sea. To make things worse, fish stocks have moved from the west coast, where most of the penguin colonies are, to the south coast.

There is some controversy surrounding the decrease in penguin numbers with the fishing industry denying that fishing has affected the penguins, while scientists argue that it has. The effects of fishing are worth investigating, as fishing is one of the largest impacts that humans have on the marine ecosystem. For this reason, BirdLife South Africa is involved in some exciting work to determine whether restricting fishing around penguin breeding islands will increase the abundance of fish in the area. Preliminary work by Dr Lorien Pichegru, a researcher at the University of Cape Town, has shown that there is some benefit, as penguins do not swim as far from the islands when there is no fishing around the breeding islands as when fishing is allowed.

The African Penguin has the support of many people and organisations working to prevent their extinction. The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and other rehabilitation centres work tirelessly to take care of injured and oiled birds. Researchers at UCT are studying the penguins to establish causes of the dramatic decrease in penguin numbers.

BirdLife South Africa is a partner of BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme and has received funding from the Charl van der Merwe Trust for its work on African Penguins. The Trust is therefore the African Penguin Species Champion. Through their support, BirdLife South Africa is working with several partners on projects to assist in stopping the catastrophic decrease of African Penguin numbers.

An unexpected partner joined BirdLife South Africa in 2010, with an innovative idea to help save these charismatic birds. Diemersfontein Wine Estate approached BirdLife South Africa with the idea of producing a special wine and donating a portion of the sales to penguin conservation. This led to the creation of a red wine called “For the Birds!” and a new fund, the Save Our Seabirds Fund. The money from wine sales will support the work of BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Division. Wine lovers can help support seabird conservation by drinking “For the Birds!” wine, which can be ordered online at

BirdLife South Africa’s Seabird Division also runs the Albatross Task Force team, which aims to reduce the accidental deaths of albatrosses and other seabirds in the fishing gear of the trawl and long-line fisheries.

To engage with and find out more about this project, come to the Biodiversity Expo 2011 from the 5 to 8 May 2011 at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

For more info, visit or email Augustine Morkel on

For further information on BirdLife South Africa, contact Christina Moseley, Tel. +27-21- 4197347 / 083-301-8765,

SA-Kirstenbosch exhibit off to Chelsea

March 3, 2011

The 2011 SA-Kirstenbosch Chelsea Flower Show exhibit has been saved and will now go ahead thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Provincial Government of the Western Cape (PGWC) and the SA Gold Coin Exchange.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) confirmed that the 35 year run of exhibiting at this prestigious event will not be broken and the display will be heading off to London to the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show in May.

“Our grateful thanks must go to the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and the SA Gold Coin Exchange who responded so quickly to our media announcement and the groundswell of public interest,” said DR Tanya Abrahamse, CEO of SANBI. “This exhibit has become an institution in South Africa and is not only a major attraction for tourists to visit our country to see the diversity and beauty of our floral kingdom but is also a vital way of preserving our heritage and supporting the economy.”

Agriculture MEC, Gerrit van Rensberg, speaking on behalf of Provincial Government, said that when he heard that SANBI had not managed to raise the funds to showcase our unique South African biodiversity at the Chelsea Flower Show for the first time in over 35 years, he engaged his colleagues to raise the funds between their departments ‘to make it happen.

‘During 2010 there was not a country in the world that was not exposed to the beauty and excellence of South Africa. But we cannot rest on history. We must keep our uniqueness out there in the world’s eye’ said van Rensburg.

The SA – Kirstenbosch Chelsea Flower Show exhibit is an important element in gaining support for Table Mountain to become one of the seven wonders of the world. In addition, as a  showcase of our design talent, it  reinforces Cape Town’s  Bid to become World Design Capital 2014. The Western Cape’s commitment to sustainable development and building on the advantages of the emerging green economy is showcased through this project.

With all of the above in mind Alan Winde, MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, and Anton Bredell, MEC for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, have shown their full support  underlining the importance of this project.

Co-sponsor Alan Demby, Chairman of the SA Gold Coin Exchange and The Scoin Shop  welcomed this public/private sector partnership; “As a business operating in both South Africa and the United Kingdom through our unique SCOIN shops, sponsoring this exhibit made huge business sense. There are so many synergies. Celebrating our floral heritage has been a major feature of  the PROTEA gold coins since the SA Mint brought out its first coin in the  PROTEA series in 1986,  celebrating the centenary of Johannesburg  .  Over the year’s , Bafana Bafana, the new Constitution  , the Cape wine industry incorporating  Table Mountain and other sectors in South Africa’s heritage have been featured. Our ten years of democracy commemorative Gold Coin that features Nelson Mandela on the head and the king protea on the reverse is one of the most popular coins ever produced.  Since its release in 2004, it has become seven times more valuable,” he said.

“Our SCOIN shops are the only retail chain of coin shops in the world and were a finalist in the international retailer of the year competition. If our designers bring back gold from the Chelsea Flower Show the SA Gold Coin Exchange and its SCOIN shops will be giving them each a gold Nelson Mandela medallion ,” he continued.

Designer David Davidson, for whom this will be his 18th Chelsea exhibit, had this to say:

“We are overjoyed that the exhibit will be going ahead.  The support from both the public and private sector has demonstrated the importance of this display to the country and a public/private sector partnership is a great show of confidence in what has become a source of great national pride. We are looking forward to presenting a winning display once more.”

he RHS Chelsea Flower Show runs from 23 to 26 May in London and this will be the 36th year that South Africa has been represented. The Kirstenbosch-SA Chelsea Exhibit has always done the country immensely proud – having won 30 Gold medals, two Silver-Gilt medal and three Silver medals. It was also awarded the Wilkinson Sword trophy for the ‘Best Overseas Exhibit’ on all four occasions that the trophy was presented, and has won numerous other awards for outstanding contributions to the show such as the Tudor Rose Bowl, The Lindley Medal, the Lawrence Medal for the ‘Best Exhibit shown to the Society’ in 2006, and the President’s Most Creative Award in 2008.

Lottery Fund opens door for arts, culture, heritage and environment funding applications

February 28, 2011

A wide range of non-profit organisations – from environmental and eco-tourism groups, to organisations engaged in all forms of the arts, and those that preserve and promote South African heritage – are encouraged to seize a two-month window of opportunity to apply for National Lottery funding.

The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) has made a call for funding applications and envisages allocating funds to organisations engaged in activities that fall within the Arts, Culture, Environment and National Heritage Sector.

The closing date for applications is 29 April 2011.

“There are really two central themes underpinning the kinds of projects we are looking to fund,” says National Lotteries Board chairperson Professor Alfred Nevhutanda.

“One is development and the empowerment of our least-advantaged citizens by enabling them to derive an income or a skill from cultural and artistic enterprise or ecotourism. And the other is creating and preserving art, culture and knowledge systems that are uniquely South African in nature – and of course protecting our natural environment.”

To ensure that all forms of activity that fall within the sector benefit from this allocation, the total amount available has been divided as follows:

  • A total of 40% will go to the arts to encourage the production of new, original work with a strongly South African flavour. This pool of funding will be equally sub-divided among:
    • Craft and the visual arts.
    • Traditional festivals.
    • Film production and distribution
    • Language and literature.
    • Heritage projects will receive 30% of the total for the documentation of heritage, the exhibition of heritage, and the preservation of indigenous knowledge systems.
    • Another 30% will go to environmental initiatives and ecotourism, encompassing greening projects, tree planting, training of women farmers, waste management and clean-ups, rehabilitation and sustainable management of fragile environments, and youth environmental programmes.


Further information on the criteria and the official application pack are obtainable in three ways:

  • Electronically on the NLB website at:
  • By postal request addressed to the NLDTF, Central Applications Office – Arts Sector, Private Bag X101, Brooklyn Square, 0075 (You can also call 08600 65 383 to request that a pack be mailed to you)
  • By collection from the NLB Information Centre, Block B, Hatfield Gardens, Cnr Arcadia and Hilda Streets, Hatfield, Pretoria.



Kirstenbosch-SA Exhibit Pulls Out of 2011 Chelsea Flower Show

February 21, 2011

After 35 years of award-winning exhibits at the Royal Horticultural Society’s prestigious annual Chelsea Flower Show in London, the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI’s) Kirstenbosch-SA Chelsea Exhibit will not be going to London this year.

This unfortunate situation is a result of a lack of corporate sponsorship that, in light of the recent global economic crisis, has not been forthcoming. Since the loss of a corporate sponsor two years ago, SANBI has held fundraising events and activities at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden to fund the exhibit. However this is no longer a practical or possible option. The exhibit found itself in a similar situation in 1994 when its source of funding ended. Fortunately, when the news was announced to the media, a sponsor immediately stepped in to save the exhibit.

The Kirstenbosch-SA Chelsea Exhibit has always done the country immensely proud – having won 30 Gold medals, two Silver-Gilt medal and three Silver medals. It was also awarded the Wilkinson Sword trophy for the ‘Best Overseas Exhibit’ on all four occasions that the trophy was presented, and has won numerous other awards for outstanding contributions to the show such as the Tudor Rose Bowl, The Lindley Medal, the Lawrence Medal for the ‘Best Exhibit shown to the Society’ in 2006, and the President’s Most Creative Award in 2008.

These achievements have put South Africa on a global stage of great influence and showcased the country as a land of natural wealth and beauty and a haven of unique biodiversity. It has also gone a long way towards marketing South Africa as a highly attractive tourism destination of choice for those seeking unique experiences.

The Chelsea Flower Show is attended by 170 000 people over five days (a capped figure, representing the full capacity of the 11 acre showgrounds), boasting more than 600 exhibitors and attracting intense international media interest. Apart from Mauritius, South Africa has been the only southern African country to exhibit. Other international exhibits include New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Holland, Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, Cayman Islands and Trinidad.

Designers David Davidson and Ray Hudson who have designed the exhibit 17 times have consistently explored aspects of South Africa’s floristic beauty and presented innovative interpretations of our natural heritage.

Davidson said: “This is a great disappointment in the lead-up period to what would have been a once-in-a-lifetime double centenary event in 2013 when Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and the Chelsea Flower Show – both established in 1913 – will celebrate their 100th birthdays.”

Importantly also, participation in this event has afforded practical training and experiential learning opportunities for many aspiring South African horticulturists, botanists, landscapers, environmental scientists, designers and floral artists.

After going to London, the SA Kirstenbosch Chelsea exhibit has for a number of years toured major centres around the country, allowing South Africans the opportunity to view the exhibit on home ground.

Our Chelsea exhibit is a tried and trusted formula – it works well, wins big year after year and affords sponsors and partners exceptional marketing opportunities.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute calls on any interested potential partners and sponsors for 2012 to contact Sarah Struys – Kirstenbosch events manager, on 021 799 8775 or

The ‘Claw’ arrives at Soccer City Complex

February 2, 2011

The official stage set of the U2 360° Tour, aptly named the ‘Claw’ arrived at the Soccer City Complex yesterday.    The stage set features a 360-degree configuration with a large four-legged steel structure that holds up the sound system and video screen.  This unique design affords fans the opportunity to surround the entire stage as it has no definite front and back.

 Johannesburg is about to be gripped in ‘U2 fever’ in anticipation of the build up to the concert set to be held on Sunday, 13th February 2011.  The event is set to rock the city.

“Preparations are well underway,” commented Jacques Grobbelaar, CE of Stadium Management SA (SMSA).  “We are anticipating a massive crowd and we are also preparing to host the die-hard fans who will be overnighting in the surrounds of the stadium.  For us this is extremely exciting to be hosting a global band of this stature and we have launched additional hospitality seat tickets in the Gold Club to accommodate all the U2 fans.”

First 60 containers for the 360 degree stage arrival.