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Fall hopelessly in love with plants and nature, says SU Botanical Garden’s new curator
Author: Corporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie [Martin Viljoen]
Published: 02/10/2018

Dr Donovan Kirkwood has been appointed as the new curator at the internationally accredited* Stellenbosch University (SU) Botanical Garden. He takes up the position on 1 October 2018.

“I'm very excited about the position. I've worked in the biodiversity conservation sector for a long time, but I really enjoy growing plants for fun. This job is a fantastic mix of two great passions", said Kirkwood.

Kirkwood is a highly skilled botanist as well as a person with a strong academic profile. He is a trained ecologist in Cape, savanna and forest ecosystems, sampling and experimental design, and statistical analysis and reporting. He completed his PhD at the University of Cape Town in 2003, and his research focused on population ecology and vegetation description, including formal floristic survey and analysis.

“SU welcomes Dr Kirkwood as new curator and is very excited about his appointment. The Botanical Garden is a precious SU asset, as a conservatory, as a space for academic research and as a pleasance garden for students, staff and the public and will flourish under Dr Kirkwood's curatorship."

Kirkwood's key responsibilities as curator will include administrative and operational management to keep the garden functioning smoothly, properly maintained and beautiful. He will also continue to help sustain and grow the conservation work that the garden is committed to as a Botanic Gardens Conservation International partner, which includes everything from education and outreach to growing endangered plants and supporting population or habitat rehabilitation.

Apart from his career experience and being academically knowledgeable in botany, Kirkwood also spent numerous years working as a photojournalist and writing magazine articles to help educate people about more sustainable gardening practices.

He believes that all these skills and career experience will be of great benefit in taking the Botanical Garden into a new chapter.

“I certainly want to continue the legacy of conservation growing projects and partnerships, but I also would like to make learning about the tremendous botanical diversity of South Africa, and particularly the Western Cape, exciting, visually appealing and personal. I really want to highlight the many spectacular threatened plants we have and make strong links to the threatened habitats and landscapes and what people can do about looking after our heritage. Most of all, I just want to get people to fall hopelessly in love with plants and nature", said Kirkwood.