The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will invest R50 million over the next three years to establish a virtual facility for natural science collections representing South Africa's mega biodiversity with more than 100 000 plant and animal species.

 

The Natural Science Collections Facility will see institutions holding South Africa's natural science collections, which have been built up over almost 200 years, forming a network with a central coordinating hub based at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

 

With more than 30 million preserved plant, animal and fossil specimens held in more than 40 museums, science councils and universities in the country, these collections present economic and scientific opportunities.  The collections are used by researchers all over the world.

 

They provide materials and data that will have relevance in increasingly broad ways, as new questions about sustaining life arise and new technologies for research using the collections emerge.

 

They can be used to track pathways for the spread of pests and diseases, and to provide information on the historical distribution of species, which is particularly relevant for sustaining biodiversity-based industries such as fishing, and the harvesting of other natural resources.

 

The facility is one of the 13 research infrastructure facilities identified as part of South Africa Research Infrastructure Roadmap, which was launched last year to support the generation, exchange and preservation of knowledge towards enabling socio-economic development.

 

The DST and SANBI will launch the facility in the Drakensberg on 17 October 2017.  The launch will be followed by a two-day forum attended by scientists and curators from universities and museums across the country.

 

Launch event

Date:       Tuesday, 17 October

Time:       17:30 for 18:00

Venue:   Alpine Heath, Drakensburg, Northern KwaZulu-Natal

 

Discussion forum

Date:       18 and 19 October

Time:       08:00 – 17:00

Venue:   Alpine Heath, Drakensburg, Northern KwaZulu-Natal

 

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