Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Tshwane

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Tshwane

Project background

The research project monitors the survival of native grassland plant palettes in urban contexts, and explores to what degree the plants contribute to enhance local biodiversity, sense of place and place identity. The greater programme has implemented two biodiversity gardens one project (200 sqm patch area) is part of the Future Africa Research Complex on the University of Pretoria Hillcrest Campus; the second project (100 sqm patch area) is part of the Javett Art Centre and Mapungubwe Collection Museum on the UP Hatfield Campus. These two gardens are in typical urban conditions of small green space patch sizes that are fairly isolated. The research project verifies how the selection and combination of native plant species can lead to the development of low risk planting palettes that can be used by landscape designers to improve urban green space benefits. In cooperation with plant growers, plants were selected for the two biodiversity gardens, consisting of native species of the Tshwane region that could be sourced, monitored and tested. . The objectives of the greater project are to study: 1) patterns in urban biodiversity (plants and insects), 2) the role of biodiversity and native species in providing ecosystem functions and services, 3) how city dwellers perceive biodiversity (and native species), including how people’s experience of biodiversity and its services influence their perceptions.

Further information 

While the literature promotes the inclusion of a greater variety of ecosystem services in multi-functional urban green space areas, very little research has been done on urban green space areas in South Africa - specifically how these areas contribute to biodiversity conservation and influence public perception. Very few guidelines exist for landscape architects and horticulturalists to select plants based on biodiversity or ecosystem service criteria. 

The project was conceptualized in 2016 by Dr Ida Breed, a landscape architect at the Department of Architecture, UP. The project spans the expertise of various disciplines and the aim is to incorporate researchers interested in urban biodiversity, ecosystem services and native species to collaborate on the project.

The project has received funding from the National Research Foundation (2017-2019), the UP Research Development Programme (2017-2019), the UP Capacity Development Programme (2020-2021).

Principal researcher: Dr C A Breed, Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture.


Implementation collaborators (2016-2019): Dr J Wentzel, Wildflower Nursery; Ivan van der Walt, Abrus Enterprises; Insite Group landscape architects, Werner Venter; Green Inc landscape architects, Wouter Labuschagne.

Research collaborators (2019-2020): Prof Catherine Sole; Prof Christian Pirk, Department of Zoology. University of Pretoria

Research collaborators (2020-2021): Prof S Cilliers; Prof J Berner, School of Biological Sciences, North-West University

Ongoing design and implementation maintenance: Dr Ida Breed, UP;  Ivan van der Walt, Abrus Enterprises;