What is Botany?
The study of botany includes the classification of plants (naming and cataloguing of organisms), plant ecology (how plants interact with their environment and other living organisms), structure and anatomy (what makes up a plant), and physiology (how plants work).
Why study plants?
Plants are the largest component of most ecosystems, and all life on earth depends on plants as a source of energy. Plants also play a crucial role in fixing carbon dioxide and counter-acting the effects of climate change. The importance of biodiversity and functional ecosystems is increasingly recognised, but at the same time ecosystems are under increasing threat from human activities. An understanding of the functioning of plants from the cellular to the ecosystem level is required for us to manage our natural resources, from the conservation of remaining natural ecosystems, to resource management in agricultural landscapes, and the rehabilitation of severely disturbed areas. South Africa is home to 10 % of the world’s 240 000 plant species, the world’s smallest Floral Kingdom (the Fynbos), the world’s most species-rich arid region (the Succulent Karoo) and several biodiversity hotspots. There is an unprecedented level of international interest and investment in conserving South Africa’s biodiversity.
A degree in Botany equips you with a range of skills which can be applied in many different careers, from research to teaching, to applied fields. Research careers include working for universities, the National Botanical Institute, the Agricultural Research Council and other research institutes. Botanical expertise is required in resource management, nature conservation, government departments like Water Affairs, environmental consulting, policy making and rural development. People with Botany degrees have also moved into careers such as science publishing and research for the private sector. They were able to do so because their Botany degree equipped them with widely applicable skills in independent research, data analysis, report writing and verbal communication.
The following list of past student will give you some ideas about where a degree in Botany from Rhodes University might take you. You will need a pdf viewer to read these posters: