Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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Education Programmes


Garden-based Conservation & Biodiversity Education Programmes

Botanical gardens and arboreta were originally created to host vast collections of plants for research and to present this diversity to the public in a variety of creative and beautiful displays. Today, many of these organisations also manage adjacent natural areas and provide opportunities to discover plants in their natural habitats and present information about the ecosystems that sustain them.

The wonder of plants and the integration of nature, art and science are dominant themes that are presented and attract visitors. As such, gardens and arboreta are important recreation, tourism and educational destinations. Collectively, Canadian botanical gardens and arboreta host approximately half a million visitors per year.

As more Canadians move away from rural and natural areas, urban-based facilities such as botanical gardens and arboreta are playing an increasingly important role in reconnecting people with nature and our environment. These institutions provide a variety of educational programmes that directly present and involve participants in environmental education, plant conservation and biodiversity issues. Over 400,000 people per year participate in organised educational activities at Canadian botanical gardens and arboreta.

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Garden Profiles:

  1. Assiniboine Park Conservatory
  2. Columbia Valley Botanical Garden
  3. Devonian Botanic Garden
  4. Harriet Irving Botanical Garden
  5. Memorial University Botanical Garden
  6. Milner Gardens and Woodland
  7. Montreal Botanical Garden
  8. Morgan Arboretum
  9. Muttart Conservatory
  10. New Brunswick Botanical Garden
  11. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden and School of Horticulture
  12. Reford Garden/Mitis River Park
  13. Royal Botanical Gardens
  14. University of Guelph Arboretum
  15. Tofino Botanical Gardens
  16. Toronto Zoo
  17. UBC Botanical Garden
  18. VanDusen Botanical Garden


  1. Assiniboine Park Conservatory

  2. For more information visit

  3. Columbia Valley Botanical Garden

    • Education programs are aimed mainly to elementary grades and focus on engaging local students in activities related to living with and learning about plants and the ecological processes that sustain us

    For more information visit

  4. Devonian Botanic Garden

    • School and children's camp programming includes biodiversity, natural habitats, conservation and ecosystem components
    • Adult education courses include, resource conservation, ethnobotany native plant and wildlife gardening
    • Through "Prairie and Northern Plant Diversity Centre", offer technical & professional training in plant identification, ecological classification, monitoring and assessment
    • Interpretive signs throughout garden highlight native plants, ecosystems, ecology and ethnobotany
    • Conservation messages communicated through Plantwatch programme and related workshops

    For more information visit

  5. Harriet Irving Botanical Garden

    • Working to educate the community on plant species of conservation concern through interpretative signs, all endangered species in the Gardens have unique tagging and interpretative info
    • Partner on Canada-wide PlantWatch program, volunteer program to monitor the effect of climate change on local flora
    • Provide education to visitors on native habitats of the Acadian Forest Region and Medicinal and Foods plants through interpretative signs in the Gardens
    • Conduct nature walks for public and volunteers, educating on native plants and habitats both on and off-site
    • Offer adult education seminars on endangered plant species, native species, gardening with native species, maintaining biodiversity in seed banks
    • Partner with Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps to provide employment for students who provide education and interpretation for the Gardens
    • Leading an “Alien vs. native species” program, conducting an invasive plant survey of local area with community involvement, working with local camp children to hold an ‘alien plant theatre production’
    • Host community events to promote plant education and encourage awareness of the natural world ie. Earth Day native plant giveaway, Wreath making with natural recyclable materials, Orchid Society, Communities in Bloom Garden Party

    • For more information visit

  6. Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden

    • School, family, day camp and junior naturalists programming include components on ecology, ecosystems, biodiversity, resource conservation, habitats, ethnobotany, wildlife and organic gardening
    • On-site displays and interpretive material about botany, ecology, ecosystems, conservation, ethnobotany, wildlife gardening, native plant gardening, and invasives
    • Major partner in limestone barrens in-situ conservation project spear-heading an extensive community education and environmental stewardship effort

    For more information visit

  7. Milner Botanical Gardens and Woodland

    • Children's gardening programme (promoting organic and sustainable gardening practices)
    • Interpretive signage highlighting forest conservation, biodiversity and ecosystem concepts along trail through forest
    • Ethnobotanical planting in food garden with interpretive signs and labels

    For more information visit

  8. Montreal Botanical Garden

    • School and children's day camp programming includes ecology, biodiversity, habitat and wildlife conservation, ecosystem, botany, ethnobotany, resource conservation and organic gardening components
    • Adult education courses (offered by the Friends of the Garden) include: ecology, resource conservation, botany, ethnobotany, and native plant, and organic gardening
    • Interpretive signs and displays covering a range of topics, i.e. ecology, conservation, ecosystems, biodiversity, species-at-risk, botany, and ethnobotany
    • First Nations Garden and Tree house offer permanent interpretive exhibits and signs, guided hikes, and demonstrations highlighting ecology, biology, conservation, and ethnobotany
    • Partners on annual educators professional development workshop for the scientific institutions of Montreal
    • Host yearly special events (i.e. Seedy Sunday, Sugaring off Time (maple sugaring), Great Gardening Weekend and temporary exhibits (i.e. Forest Wardens, Noah's Arch, Butterflies Go Free) that present a range of conservation and environmental messages
    • Extensive science and conservation component on web site

    For more information visit

  9. Morgan Arboretum

    • School, adult and family education programmes include ecology, conservation and biodiversity messages
    • Interpretive signs and displays highlighting forest ecology and conservation
    • Ecological and conservation messages conveyed through special events, i.e. Taffy on snow (maple sugaring) and Oktoberfest
    • Many university classes use gardens for teaching components of botany, biology, ecology, wildlife and resource conservation

    For more information visit

  10. Muttart Conservatory

    • Interpretive signs, guidebooks and displays highlighting temperate, arid and tropical biomes
    • Related school programmes highlighting ecology, biodiversity, ecosystems, botany and gardening

    For more information visit

  11. New Brunswick Botantical Garden

    • Offer adult workshops on resource conservation, composting, wildlife and organic gardening
    • Interpretive signs, displays and seasonal exhibits (i.e. Tropical Insects) that including organic gardening, ethnobotany, composting and conservation messages
    • University of Moncton students and Department of Forestry use collections and displays for teaching purposes

    For more information please visit

  12. Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture

    • A broad range of conservation related topics are presented to the three year horticulture diploma students including: integrated pest management, resource conservation, invasive species management, wildlife and native plant gardening
    • Host several horticultural workshops, lectures, conferences, and special events (i.e. annual "Project Tree Cycle", re-cycling Christmas trees into garden mulch)
    • Native plant labelling in the botanical gardens
    • School educational programmes on topics such as biodiversity, natural habitats, conservation, and ecosystems are offered at the Butterfly Conservatory
    • Special seasonal exhibits on CITES protected butterflies
    • Interpretive signage at various locations in Niagara Parks jurisdiction to explain species at risk, ecological protection, rehabilitation and restoration projects
    • Communication with public and adjacent landowners via Public Information Meetings to explain need and direction of on-site restoration efforts
    • Host a variety of natural history events in Niagara Parks jurisdiction (i.e. spring wildflower walks, seasonal tree identification, "Walking Stick" weekends) and volunteer plant inventory days, garlic mustard removals, etc.

    For more information visit

  13. Reford Garden/Mitis River Park

    • School programming includes ecology, biodiversity, habitat and wildlife conservation, ecosystem, botany, ethnobotany, and resource conservation components
    • Developed and distribute "Lycée Vert": curriculum based teacher's activity guide for botanically-based conservation activities and "Littoral Zone Discovery Guide" that focus on conservation and ecology
    • Offer adult and family guided tours guest speaker series in summer highlighting ecology, ecosystems, ethnobotany, conservation and habitat restoration
    • Extensive marine and species-at-risk ecology component on web site

    For more information visit

  14. Royal Botanical Gardens

    • School, children's camp and family programming includes ecology, biodiversity, habitat and wildlife conservation, ecosystem and organic gardening components
    • Adult education courses include: ecology, resource conservation, botany, ethnobotany, and native plant, organic and wildlife gardening
    • Interpretive signs and displays covering a range of topics, i.e. ecology, conservation, ecosystems, habitat restoration, geology, ethnobotany, native plant gardening, organic gardening and integrated pest management
    • Major partner in teacher training workshop/wetland habitat education programme ("Mini-Marsh")
    • Major partner in community environmental education project "Nature in Your Neighbourhood"
    • Host yearly special events that present a range of conservation and environmental messages (i.e. "Green Gardening", Seedy Saturday, Festival of Birds, and Earth Day)
    • Extensive science and conservation component on web site

    For more information visit

  15. The Arboretum, University of Guelph

    • Extensive adult and family workshops covering a broad range of environmental/ conservation topics (i.e. native plant gardening, pond and woodland gardening, forest conservation, school yard naturalisation, wildlife observation, art/nature appreciation...)
    • Offer an on-line university course on interpretation
    • Environmental education school programme (K to grade 6) and schoolyard naturalisation consultations have been put on hold due to lack of funding

    For more information visit

  16. Tofino Botanical Garden

    • In partnership with local non-profit education group, offer guided tours and children's camps that highlight biodiversity and conservation issues
    • Host field components of a university environmental studies course
    • Native plant labelling programme (including local aboriginal names)
    • Self-guided tour includes interpretive material on native plant species, communities and ecosystems

    For more information visit

  17. Toronto Zoo

    • Extensive school and children's camp programme covering a range of concepts such as ecology, biology, botany, conservation, habitats and communities, biodiversity, ecosystems and species at risk
    • Interpretive signs and displays highlight conservation, biodiversity, ecosystem and habitat restoration messages
    • Developed and co-ordinate Adopt-A-Pond programme, emphasising wetland habitat protection, conservation, and restoration
    • Offer intensive training/professional development programme to volunteers who are responsible for a large portion of public education
    • Promote wildlife monitoring programmes through education programme, demonstrations, workshops and special events (i.e. Toad Festival)

    For more information visit

  18. UBC Botanical Garden

    • Conservation messages integrated into adult gardening courses
    • Science-oriented noon lecture series (presentations from faculty and employees on a range of subjects)
    • Native plants are presented in "Plants of British Columbia" garden and Friends of the Garden actively promote native plant gardening through gift shop (i.e. educational material and plants sold)
    • Provide technical and professional support and advice to NPBC (Native Plant Society of British Columbia)
    • Many university classes use gardens for teaching components of botany, biology, ecology, systematics, and environmental studies

    For more information visit

  19. VanDusen Botanical Garden

    • Canadian Heritage garden interprets biodiversity, plant communities, conservation issues and ethnobotany through signage and displays
    • Additional garden displays and interpretive signs highlight important North American flora (i.e. locally endangered Garry Oak ecosystem)
    • Biodiversity, natural habitats, conservation and sustainable living is presented in school and family programming
    • a range of conservation-related topics are presented to volunteer guides through intensive professional development programme
    • Integrated pest management and native plant gardening are taught and promoted in Master Gardener and adult education courses
    • Host a seed collectors group that collect seeds and partner with Seeds of Diversity Canada to organise annual "Seedy Saturday" exchange & event

    For more information visit