This past Thursday Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) donated 500 copies of the book on species of plant life found in the northern region of Botswana to various government institutions.
Written by Alison and Roger Heath,the field guide to the plants of Northern Botswana including The Okavango Delta is meant to help readers to have better knowledge of plant life and their position in the ecology of Botswana.
“I was very excited when the book was launched a few years back because I believed it would prove valuable especially to students and environmental management workers,” Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Felix Monggae said.
He said it has always been his wish for Batswana to know more about their country and as such the book plays a big role in that regard. “The book can also play a major role in selling and branding Botswana.” Monggae said as a voluntary organisation KCS should be applauded for donating the book rather than selling it and expressed his gratitude to the authors, the Rodgers. Monggae also happens to be former KCS CEO.
In a joint statement the Rodgers said Plants and People Africa, the charity which supports their work, decided to make this donation of books because it believes that research has no value until it is shared with others. “Sharing needs not only be with academics but with the whole community especially with people who have a direct need to be able to make use of the knowledge in their everyday work,” they said. They hopedthat the recipients are fromprimary, secondary and tertiary education, Staff in Environmental Management such as in the Departments of Wildlife and National Parks and of Forestry and Range Resources.
The Rodgers said they were particularly keen to share their research with young people who are the future workers and decision makers of Botswana.
The Plants of Northern Botswana is a book which is designed to be a user friendly tool but at the same time to convey a great deal of information of differing types of plant species. The book is accessed by flower colours or, in the case of grasses and sedges, by simple inflorescence shapes.
“The book is all original images and descriptions coming from our research. People who live in northern Botswana have made a considerable contribution to the information about uses and beliefs making this work a truly cooperative effort. They are all acknowledged in the pages of the book as it is their knowledge and not ours,” the Rodgers.
They said the important role of plants in the ecosystem is largely ignored. Thelink between plants and lions, the Rodgers said, is rarely acknowledged. “The wrong plants lead to no plains for game and thus no lions. Indigenous plants have a great importance to wildlife. People imagine that animals will eat anything green but this is not true.”They said it was essential to be able to maintain a good balance of indigenous plants in Botswana and to control the harmful effects of many alien and invasive species. “It is vital to be able to distinguish the good from the bad and thus to maintain an ecological balance. We see this book as a first step to achieving a sufficient level of knowledge to be able to do this.”The book was published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK with the help of the National Museum of Botswana.