The Fern Society of Southern Africa formally met for the first time on the 8th of March 1980. The quarterly journal was first published in September 1983 and again in March 1986. Since then over eighty issues have been published. A regional group was formed in 1982 in Southern Natal, but lasted only two years before breaking up. The first honorary member, Dr WBG Jacobsen, was elected in 1984. The Fern Society has been associated with various persons, places and organizations including Keith Kirsten's Waterkloof Garden Centre (1985), the Manie van der Schijff Botanical Garden of the University of Pretoria (1989), the Pretoria National Botanical Garden (1990) and the Fern Festival in Graskop (1992). Several fern surveys were done for forestry companies as well as for Nature Conservation and various private landowners over the past 27 years. The Society presently has approximately 80 members throughout Southern Africa, all sharing a mutual interest in ferns.
The Constitution* of the Fern Society of Southern Africa states that the Society shall consist of an unlimited number of members, either as ordinary members, affiliated members, honorary members or life members. These members are bound by the constitution upon admission to the Society.
Any person, club or society desirous of becoming a member of the Society must submit an application form to the Secretary, together with the entry fee and the prepayment of the first subscription. The granting of membership shall not be based on discrimination in any form.
The management and control of the Society shall vest in the National Committee as elected by the members at the Annual General Meeting.
Various national Acts protect South African ferns directly and indirectly. All indigenous species of true ferns excluding Pteridium aquilinum (bracken) are considered protected plants and are not to be removed from nature. The Cyathea species (tree ferns) are specially protected by South African law and by international conventions. The Fern Society supports these laws and discourages any form of habitat destruction, removal of plants from nature or any other activities that disturb ferns in their natural habitat.