South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)



The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) was established on 1 September 2004 in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Act No 10 of 2004). The mandate of SANBI is to play a leading role in South Africa’s national commitment to biodiversity management, now and into the future. In partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs and the biodiversity sector, SANBI is tasked with leading the biodiversity research agenda.

This entails providing knowledge and information, giving policy support and advice, managing gardens as windows to our biodiversity for leisure, enjoyment, spiritual upliftment and education, and engaging in ecosystem restoration and rehabilitation programmes and best practice models to manage biodiversity better.

SANBI contributes to the key government priority on the eradication of poverty through the creation of decent and sustainable employment opportunities by implementing a number of collaborative programmes that focus on the rehabilitation of ecosystems. Some of SANBI’s most notable and recent achievements in this regard include the rehabilitation of 94 wetlands, 1 336 people employed for 212 905 person days and the provision of 20 420 training days.

Research remains central to SANBI’s agenda and, as such, it will continue leading the research agenda relating to climate change and bio-adaptation. The research will be aimed at enhancing climate change policy development and decision making by increasing access to appropriate scientific knowledge. In an attempt to increase the participation of previously disadvantaged individuals in biodiversity,

SANBI intends implementing programmes to encourage participation in biodiversity science at school level and to strengthen the quality of biodiversity teaching and learning. Furthermore, SANBI’s priorities will focus on establishing strategic partnerships with education departments and schools to increase visibility and access to information on careers in the biodiversity sectors.

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  • Management of biodiversity resources

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) contributes to the management of the country’s biodiversity resources in terms of its legal mandate under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act. SANBI’s core activities involve research, conservation, sustainable use, biodiversity information systems, education, garden development, horticulture, ecosystems rehabilitation and bioregional planning programmes and policies.

  • Knowledge and information management

SANBI developed and implemented a biodiversity knowledge and information management strategy in 2007/08 to integrate existing information resources for easy user access. This generates activities that are strategically aligned with the needs of both internal and external end-users, and brings greater efficiency in tacit and codified knowledge resource management and wide, equitable access to value-added biodiversity information for South Africa.

  • Research and development

SANBI is currently engaged in nationwide biodiversity conservation assessments involving reptiles, butterflies and arachnids (spiders). It is also updating the Southern African Bird Atlas. All projects involve field trips for the collection of data and interested members of the public can participate.

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