Botanic Gardens were involved in safeguarding the survival of endangered plant species throughout all of their history. International conventions like CITES or the CBD, therefore, represent ongoing challenges for the Botanic Gardens community. Botanic Gardens play or at least could play an important role in the implementation of these conventions. Thus representatives of several Botanic Gardens act as advisors for CITES management and/or scientific authorities. At the same time, however, Botanic Gardens are stating difficulties in the access to relevant information, especially in cases of changes in legislation (like, e.g., recently in the European Community). Additionally, the administrative burden caused by some regulations of CITES are critically mentioned, e.g., regarding the documentation of older acquisitions or the exchange of artificially propagated material. Finally, in many Botanic Gardens financial, personal and/or logistic support for fulfilling duties and responsabilities in CITES is not sufficiently guarantied or regulated.
In order to support the Botanic Gardens in their efforts to deal with the CITES regulations in the best possible way, the workshop had three objectives:
- a) Presentation of new media helping Botanic Gardens to handle CITES issues
- b) Discussion of individual Botanic Gardens´ current experiences and problems with CITES
- c) Preparation of CITES-recommendations for the BGCI conference plenary session
In the first part of the workshop Noel McGough from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (UK) presented current projects of Kew regarding different new CITES media with relevance for Botanic Gardens:
- A Rough Guide to CITES - Plants is intended to provide basic information on CITES plants issues. It includes an internet- and e-mail addresses directory of CITES relevance. A draft of this guide was distributed to the participants of the workshop. It was generally agreed upon that this guide will be an important support for the daily work with CITES agenda in Botanic Gardens.
- A Slide Pack on CITES - Plants is developed to support education on CITES. It contains general information on CITES (as, e.g., explanations of the appendices or of the differences between artificial propagation and wild origin) as well as pictures of species from the most important plant groups covered by CITES. This slide pack was considered to be a highly valuable tool to create a general awareness of the ideas and structures of CITES.
- Different check-lists (Cactaceae, several orchid groups, CITES plants in trade) have been published in collaboration with the CITES secretariat. They help solving nomenclatural problems.
The next two topics were dealt with in two subgroups. The representatives of the different gardens discussed their own experiences with CITES. They took advantage of the fact that several active and former regional representatives of the CITES plants committee participated in the workshop and added important background information. The results of the subgroups were presented in the workshop and are summarized in the following recommendations:
- An updated edition of the CITES Manual for Botanic Gardens is highly demanded.
- BGs should train their staff better regarding CITES issues.
- BG-networks should help to transfer relevant CITES-information. BGCI could contribute by including a column on CITES News in the BGCI Newsletter.
- BGs should actively strengthen links to their national and regional CITES-representatives. In order facilitate this, BGCI is requested to provide a CITES-Authorities directory to their members.
- The 6th BGCI Congress Organizing Committee should invite the US CITES Management and Scientific Authorities to participate in the CITES workshop at this Congress. Also a training workshop should be envisaged (possibly through APHIS).
- BGs can seek (and obtain) additional funding for projects on CITES plants (e.g., providing ID-tools for national customs purposes, or creating a CD-ROM on CITES including lists and images), or when acting as rescue centers for seized and confiscated plants (with clear regulations as regards reimbursements).
- The recognition of BGs scientific role by national CITES (but also other governmental) authorities increases when they use actively offered expertise or training courses.
These recommendations reflect the ongoing interest of Botanic Gardens in a proper implementation of the aims and goals of CITES. Botanic Gardens are aware of their responsabilities in this field. An active involvement in CITES projects will be attractive for Botanic Gardens as it offers new working fields and additional funding, the more when combined with new developments arising in the context of the CBD. Dr. Michael Kiehn, Institute of Botany and Botanical Garden, University of Vienna, Rennweg 14, A-1030 VIENNA (Austria), chair of the CITES workshop.
Copyright 1999 NBI