Learning for Sustainable Living
— A Study Expedition to South Africa
By Junko Oikawa
My three-weeks’ expedition to South Africa in September 1998 was spent significantly and the tour was completed on schedule without any problems encountered. A wide variety of activities were integrated into the itinerary and all the aims and the objectives I planned originally were successfully achieved.
I especially wanted to participate in the International Botanic Gardens Conservation Congress, joining the five hundred delegates from around the world. I was also to participate in the debates regarding the role of botanic gardens for sustainable living. My additional contribution to the Congress included a poster presentation which has developed and now become a published paper for these proceedings in the future.
During several botanical field studies that I carried out, I observed the rich diversity of the Cape Flora and the variety of the surrounding natural landscapes were fascinating. Experiencing the ecological complexity of this area, which has resulted in the beauty of the vegetation, has extended my knowledge and understanding of the floral of the world.
I had an opportunity of learning about the social and political components when I visited the greening projects within the townships in Cape Town. Several organisations carrying out environmental education and promoting the conservation of indigenous plants and their natural habitats for sustainability were visited and interviewed.
The Botanic Garden of the National Botanical Institute situated in Kirstenbosch is famous for its living collections. I also studied the techniques of interpretation and the plant displays seen in the garden. The most effective displays were found when communities of associated plants from their natural habitats were planted together.
Since the Earth Summit of 1992, the achievement of sustainable development has become a key issue for all nations, societies and individuals. By meeting and communicating with various people at both the professional and local level, together with experiencing the rich diversity of the habitats and the species found in another part of the world, this study trip was a great opportunity for me to reconsider what the real meaning of “sustainability” is. It was an unforgettable experience and I intend to share the knowledge and experience gained during this expedition throughout my future professional career.