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Lessons learned from the SABONET Project while building capacity to document the botanical diversity of southern Africa

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The Southern African Botanical Diversity Network (SABONET) is a donor-funded capacity-building project supported by the GEF-UNDP and USAID/IUCN ROSA. The ten southern African countries that make up the network are Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Participating institutions in these countries are involved in the compilation of national plant checklists, production of botanical inventories for centres of plant diversity, regional and national plant collecting expeditions, computerisation of herbarium specimens, support of postgraduate studies in systematics, biodiversity research projects, regional and national training courses and workshops, implementation of threatened plants programmes in botanical gardens and the compilation of Plant Red Data Lists. Since the inception of the Project in 1996, these efforts have contributed positively towards networking and capacity-building among botanists and providing baseline information for the in situ and ex situ conservation of the flora of the southern African region. This paper discusses the lessons learned during the implementation of the project up to December 2002 and outlines the contribution SABONET has made towards building the capacity of focal institutions in southern Africa. It also highlights the main strengths of the project and provides a 20-point plan for a successful regional network. Other issues that pertain to the SABONET Project are discussed under challenges and opportunities, constraints to improvement and complementing other networks. It is hoped that this paper will provide some insight into the experience of southern Africa in documenting biodiversity. By evaluating our successes and failures we hope the findings presented in this paper will serve as guidelines for other projects to accomplish even more than we had.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Zululand, Private Bag X1001, KwaDlangezwa 3886, South Africa. 2: National Botanical Institute, Private Bag X101, Pretoria 0001, South Africa.

Publication date: 2004-02-01

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