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Plant Conservation in Canada

francais

Botanical experts suggest that close to one third of the vascular plants on earth are threatened with extinction in the next 30 years unless action is taken to protect them. This is so urgent that the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a Global Strategy for Plant Conservation in 2002, to try to stem the tide of plant extinction.

The situation in Canada is also urgent. Approximately 3,200 species of vascular plants have been identified that are native to Canada. Botanists estimate that we have about 150 endemic species (those found only found in Canada). In 1990 the Canadian Museum of Nature classified about 1000 of our native plants as rare. While many of these rare plants are more common elsewhere in North America, the biodiversity of our natural habitats in Canada depends on survival of plant populations adapted to our climate and environmental conditions. Protecting local biodiversity and genetic variation within each species are therefore also important to the conservation of plants and their habitats. In addition, Canada’s biodiversity hotspots (Southern B.C., Southern Ontario and Southern Quebec) are also attractive places for human settlement, agriculture and industry. This has resulted in development and land use patterns in these areas that directly compete with natural habitats.

The Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada currently lists 150 species of plants at risk of extinction in Canada and is assessing or monitoring the status of an additional 500 species. Each province is also responsible for assessing species status, monitoring and conservation on a provincial basis. Many of our listed species are found naturally in the "biodiversity hotspot" areas precisely because people have altered the natural habitats to the point where survival of some plant species is threatened.

Conservation activities at Canadian botanical gardens, arboreta and related institutions vary. While there are between 70 and 100 Canadian botanical gardens, arboreta and related facilities that maintain plant collections and are open to the public, not all of these have a scientific basis for their collections or thorough documentation. Nevertheless, as places of botanical expertise, many of these institutions are participating and collaborating on a variety of conservation projects and efforts.

If you have something you would like to contribute, please contact us (yannvergriete@fastmail.fm).

Examples/ Garden profiles

  1. Assiniboine Park Conservatory
  2. Columbia Valley Botanical Garden
  3. Devonian Botanical Garden
  4. Gardens of Fanshawe College and the A.M. (Mac) Cuddy Gardens
  5. Harriet Irving Botanical Garden
  6. Memorial University Botanical Garden
  7. Montreal Botanical Garden
  8. Morgan Arboretum
  9. Niagara Parks Botanical Garden and School of Horticulture
  10. Reford Garden/ Mitis River Park
  11. Royal Botanical Gardens
  12. University of Guelph Arboretum
  13. Toronto Zoo
  14. UBC Botanical Garden


  1. Assiniboine Park Conservatory
    • working with Environment Canada’s CITES programme, providing haven for seized plants, primarily orchids and cacti

    For more information www.winnipeg.ca/cms/ape/conservatory/conservatory.stm

  2. Columbia Valley Botanical Garden
    • Grassland restoration research
    • Agriculture Canada’s Plant Gene Resources of Canada rare food plant seed grow out
    • In-situ conservation of the rare Rocky Mountain Trench Grassland ecosystem containing red listed species Ex-situ native plant beds

    For more information www.conservancy.bc.ca/CVBG

  3. Devonian Botanical Garden
    1. actively involved in rare plant inventories and completing COSEWIC status reports
    2. member of the recovery team for Haller's apple moss (Bartramia halleriana)
    3. working with local First Nation’s group on preserving traditional botanical knowledge
    4. leading Alberta’s Plantwatch project and partnering on Canada-wide Plantwatch programme
    5. host micro-fungal research collection and herbarium

    For more information www.discoveredmonton.com/devonian

  4. Gardens of Fanshawe College and the A.M. (Mac) Cuddy Garden. For more information: http://www.fanshawec.ca/EN/htn1/program/next.asp

  5. Harriet Irving Botanical Garden
    1. Volunteer group researches and experiments with propagating native plant material for home garden use to reduce harvesting from native populations
    2. Partner on Salt-marsh restoration project in NB
    3. Collaborating on the Flora of PEI
    4. Involved with completing COSEWIC status reports
    5. Participating on the Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora Recovery Team

    6. In Co-operation with Faculty of Science at Acadia University:
    7. Phytoremediation research
    8. Climate change research on plant interactions with elevated CO2 levels
    9. Conservation genetics research on Coastal Plain flora
    10. Systematic research on Ericaceae family

    For more information botanicalgardens.acadiau.ca/

  1. Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden
    • Major partner in Limestone Barrens in-situ conservation programme
    • Ex-situ conservation programme for Long’s and Fernald’s braya (Braya longii et Braya fernaldii), and barrens willow (Salix jejuna)
    • Partner on systematic research with indigenous roses
    • Partner on Canada-wide Plantwatch programme

    For more information www.mun.ca/botgarden

  2. Montreal Botanical Garden
    • “Urgence Conservation” ex-situ conservation project: seed from provincially listed species at risk in Southern Quebec sent to Saskatoon and Kew; 66 species propagated and transplanted in public gardens for research and education
    • Ethnobotany research with Cree and Inuit communities in Northern Quebec to document and preserve traditional botanical knowledge
    • Phytoremediation research projects (domestic wastewater treatment, post treatment-plant sludge, and carbon absorption)
    • Plant inventories, ecological monitoring and on-going research projects (i.e. forest succession; competition, forest dynamics, micro-organism diversity and use for bio-control)
    • Invasive species research (ie. Alnus rugosa)
    • Major partner with IRVB (Institute de recherche en biologie végétale) and botanical research at University of Montreal
    • Environmental audit and management planning project
    • Partner on Canada-wide Plantwatch programme

    For more information www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin/jardin.htm

  3. Morgan Arboretum
    • Habitat restoration project: Norway maple invasion of sugar maple forest
    • On-going plant inventory, monitoring and community assessment
    • Variety of additional research by professors and students at McGill including chipmunk ecology, dendrology and pollution assessment

    For more information www.morganarboretum.org

  4. Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture
    • As part of the Niagara Parks Commission, participate in Niagara Parks management planning/implementation and Natural Heritage Inventory
    • Participate in recovery efforts for Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), and other flora/fauna
    • Extensive riparian habitat management and several riparian buffer demonstration sites along 56 km of Niagara River/Gorge
    • Remnant Tall Grass Prairie, Black Oak Savannah and Chinquapin Oak Savannah habitat restoration
    • Planting of native trees/shrubs/wildflowers/grasses as part of several on-going ecological restoration projects
    • Established Steering Committee with several partner agencies determines direction of restoration efforts at Paradise Grove
    • Extensive invasive species removal at priority sites (i.e.designated ANSI areas)
    • Partnering with over fifteen agencies/organisations to mitigate and reverse human impacts on various ecosystems

    For more information www.niagaraparks.com/nature/botanical.php

  5. Reford Garden/Mitis River Park
    • Ecological survey, aquatic and terrestrial inventories and cartographic project of Métis River Park
    • ex-situ conservation study/ feasibility plan
    • Métis River estuary habitat restoration and education project

    For more information www.jardinsmetis.com

  6. Royal Botanical Gardens
    • Extensive wetland habitat restoration work (Project Paradise and Grindstone Estuary Rehabilitation project)
    • Established aquatic nursery to supply plants for restoration work in southern Ontario marshes
    • Actively involved in rare plant inventories and completing COSEWIC status reports for southern Ontario plant species
    • participate in recovery efforts for wood poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), red mulberry (Morus rubra) and bashful bulrush (Trichophorum planifolium)
    • Remnant Tall Grass Prairie habitat restoration
    • Develop and participate in various ecological monitoring projects
    • Partnering in a botanical project to preserve traditional botanical knowledge of local First Nations people
    • Founding partner, on-going sponsor and host for the Canadian Botanical Conservation Network office
    • Partner on Canada-wide Plantwatch programme

    For more information www.rbg.ca

  7. The Arboretum, University of Guelph
    • Elm recovery project: breeding genetically resistant native elms by surveying and sampling of potentially resistant elms across Ontario and genetic testing for resistance
    • Gene Bank project: aiming to preserve genetic diversity of Ontario’s rare woody plants and producing seed for future restoration
    • Co-leading Ontario Tree Atlas project: inventory and status assessment
    • Naturalisation projects: various sites
    • Participate in various ecological monitoring projects (i.e. Forest Bird Monitoring project; Breeding Bird Atlas...)

    For more information www.uoguelph.ca/arboretum

  8. Toronto Zoo
    • Major partner in Rouge Park biological surveys, inventories, monitoring and restoration efforts
    • Habitat restoration/conservation projects for Canadian amphibians and reptiles
    • On-site habitat restoration and creation (forest, wetland, butterfly meadows);
    • Participate in Oak savannah restoration project (Brighton)
    • Participate in invertebrate biodiversity monitoring and international seed exchange

    For more information www.torontozoo.com/

  9. UBC Botanical Garden
    • working on conservation research with Chinese botanical gardens & institutes; planning eventual restoration work with species being propagated at UBC
    • beginning plant inventory & status assessment work in alpine habitats of Queen Charlotte Islands
    • collaborate with the Native Plant Society of British Columbia's “E Flora BC” project
    • participating in Gary Oak ecosystem restoration planning

    For more information www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org