With South Africa being one of the most biodiverse countries in the World, we have dedicated two exhibits here at the Eden Project that represent the beauty and diversity of its flora, its importance to local communities and highlight its fragility.
One exhibit is in the Mediterranean biome, representing some of the habitats of the Southwest Cape, in particular Afromontane forests, semi-arid Little Karoo and the diversity of Fynbos, drier lower slopes and threatened lowlands. The second exhibit is in our outdoor gardens representing higher veld species where even in the Western Cape, at high altitude in the mountains, snow is frequent.
Sadly, this wonderful biodiversity is under threat due to climate change, land development, water availability, invasive alien species and a lack of understanding of sustainable practices.
We bring stories of the rich ethnobotanical value of these habitats and of conservation heroes, working hard to save critically endangered species whilst uplifting local communities and growing future conservation-minded horticulturists, landowners and eco-tourist experts.
Rosie has worked as a member of the Mediterranean Biome team since 2017. In 2019 Rosie was awarded bursaries by the Merlin Trust and Cornwall Garden Society for study and work experience in the Southwest Cape. Rosie won the Valerie Finnis Prize for photographic excellence in her report submitted to the Merlin Trust. Taking part in conservation activities with the Grootbos Foundation, including a Bioblitz Day (species survey), pollinator identification and rehabilitation activities, and being able to roam wild in Fynbos and Afromontane habitats gave her a special insight into these incredibly biodiverse habitats and their fragility. Rosie is using this inspiration and learning to revamp part of the Med Biome’s South Africa exhibit to create new areas of planting highlighting the flora and their many uses, some dating back hundreds of years, and the work that is undertaken at Grootbos in conservation, sustainability and community education & employment.
Florence Mansbridge, Living Landscapes Educator
Florence has worked at the Eden Project for over 17 years. Her passion for South African plants begun when working in the Tresco Abbey Gardens, on the Isles of Scilly, where plants from the world’s Mediterranean climates thrive, outside in the UK.
This led to her first role at the Eden Project, working in the Mediterranean biome, where one of her areas of responsibilities was the South African exhibit.
A few years later she moved to the outdoor gardens wanting to push the boundaries and experimenting with Mediterranean climate plants that can be grown outside in the UK, in particular in one of the exhibits she maintains and develops, Plants for a Changing Climate. She has recently implemented a new exhibit, the South African Veld.
In 2018, Florence visited South Africa, touring the Western Cape, studying the different habitats, in particular at higher altitudes.
Sean started his working career at Grootbos Nature Reserve after completing an MSc in botany at the University of Cape Town. In 2003 he co-founded the non-profit Grootbos Foundation as a means of developing conservation and community projects for Grootbos and surrounding communities. Sean is responsible for all aspects of the conservation and landscape management of the Grootbos Nature Reserve and manages and mentors a team of young biologists and conservationist in the Foundations Conservation and Research Unit who undertake biodiversity assessments, secure land for conservation and assist private landowners in implementing conservation management. Sean is the chair of the 23 000-hectare Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy, a trustee of the Flower Valley Conservation Trust and Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust. Sean has published numerous scientific publications on the Cape Flora, its management, threats and diversity and is the author of the Field guide to Grootbos Nature Reserve and the Walker Bay region (published 2010).
Born in 1967 Bran, has been teaching outside since he was 16 and has been passionate about education ever since. He trained as a Primary School Teacher, he worked for the Groundwork Trust, set up a youth Agenda 21 project (PYPA21) and formed an educational charity. His experience ranges from regeneration to international projects, from play to teaching degree modules, working with toddlers, families, naughty teenagers and teachers in places such as Morocco Russia and Peru. He is currently settled in the Schools Team at Eden Project having joined 14 years ago, he specialises in delivering creative projects and devising new material.
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