Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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Implementing the GSPC in 10 steps

Volume 6 Number 1 - April 2009

L. Allen, K. Friedrich, I. Kiefer, W. Lobin, C. Löhne, M. von den Driesch, J. Oikawa

French title: Mise en œuvre de la SMCP en 10 étapes

Spanish title: Implementando la GSPC en 10 pasos



Most of us working in botanic gardens are aware of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC).  Legally adopted in 2002 by all governments that are signatories of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the GSPC provides us with a framework for actions to bring about plant conservation, sustainable use, benefit-sharing and capacity-building at global, regional, national and local levels with the ultimate goal of halting the loss of plant diversity.

However, despite gardens knowing about this important strategy, many are still questioning what they can actually do to contribute to its implementation.  This article looks at how the University of Oxford Botanic Garden in the UK and the University of Bonn Botanic Gardens in Germany have successfully overcome this dilemma and put into practice programmes that implement and promote awareness of the GSPC and celebrate each garden’s work towards achieving the 16 targets.

The University of Oxford Botanic Garden, located in the heart of Oxford, UK, houses a national reference collection of 7,000 different types of plants.  Concerned about maximising its contribution to the GSPC, the garden initiated a 10-step approach with its staff and trustees to promote and embed the GSPC within its five-year plan.  This approach has now been refined and is presented below for other gardens interested in examining how their institution can contribute to the GSPC.  

Ten steps to implementing the GSPC

  1. Read the GSPC and identify the targets. Although the 16 targets are buried inside the document, it is a strategy about plants that needs to be implemented by botanic gardens.  It is therefore essential that the GSPC is read in full.
  2. After identifying the targets carry out an audit of what your garden is already doing to achieve each target.
  3. Run a training session for your staff on the GSPC explaining what your garden is doing to achieve the GSPC. BGCI’s bookmarks outline all 16 of the targets and are a valuable resource for this type of training session.
  4. Run a training session for your trustees/board of management on the GSPC and ask your trustees to sign up your institution to the GSPC.
  5. Include a report on what your garden is doing towards the GSPC within your annual report, include it within your website, write an article for your friends newsletter or your local newspaper.
  6. Place the GSPC at the centre of your five-year plan and thus your fundraising efforts, using the GSPC to raise money for your garden to implement the 16 targets.
  7. Use the GSPC as a basis for guided tours for students and adult visitors and a school programme for children. Examples of similar programmes at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden include Where in the World? and Living in a Changing World.
  8. Arrange a series of seasonal festival days or weekends working with local plant conservation organisations celebrating local plant conservation.
  9. Create a trail for visitors using the 16 GSPC targets for each of the stops. The information collected when carrying out your audit of what your garden is already doing will be invaluable in creating such a trail. The leaflet produced at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden is entitled Saving the World’s Flora. This was simply written and put together with related colourful photos. The booklet has been distributed widely and it can also now be downloaded from the Garden’s website (
  10. Look beyond what you are currently doing, carry out an environmental audit of your organisation and identify what else you could do to implement the GSPC. Examples include opting to only use FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) timber, never using air travel if it is possible to travel by rail, extending your site to include an in-situ conservation project and hosting BGCI’s next International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens.

Following the example of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, the University of Bonn Botanic Gardens, located in the centre of the city of Bonn, published a similar self-guided trail together with 16 interpretation panels demonstrating and promoting the practices of Bonn Botanic Gardens in relation to each target of the GSPC. These educational materials were launched at the time of the 9th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was held in Bonn in May 2008. During the two week conference, the Gardens were one of the main local biological institutes.  They ran a range of activities and programmes, but the one outstanding effort was to offer lunchtime guided tours in several languages, themed on the GSPC.  The tours were offered everyday to CBD delegates as well as to the general public.

Staff in both Oxford and Bonn botanic gardens confirm that this practical approach is simple, easy and cost effective to implement.  The approach helps you appreciate what the garden is already doing in plant conservation, and identify where the gaps in conservation efforts are. In essence what you need is enthusiasm and commitment from your team of staff and not to be afraid of the Convention on Biological Diversity!

Example 1: Target 3 (Oxford Botanic Garden)
One of the plants we have been actively conserving at Oxford for the last decade is Euphorbia stygiana. Having successfully introduced this plant into cultivation it was just as important that we published how we did this so that other botanic gardens could use our experiences as a model.

Example 2: Target 7 (Bonn Botanic Gardens)
The last remaining specimens of Whitish hair-grass (Corynephorus canescens) were collected in the nature conservation area, Tannenbuscher Düne and propagated in the Botanic Gardens. Working together with the Biostation Bonn (one of 40 nature conservancy institutions in North-Rhine-Westphalia), a species recovery project has been carried out. Eutrophic soil was removed, all weeds such as robinia were taken out and Whitish hair-grass was successfully introduced to the site. Today, thousands of specimens of this plant species are growing there.

Example 3: Target 8 (Oxford Botanic Garden)
Botanic gardens already grow 30% of threatened plant species and this Araucaria araucana is one example but we are keen to increase the number of threatened plant species that we grow within the Garden. One example of this is our work with the Conifer Conservation Programme at the Harcourt Arboretum where the Arboretum acts as a safe site for endangered conifers.

Example 4: Target 9 (Bonn Botanic Gardens)
The University Botanic Gardens cultivates collections of economic plants of the Bonn region. We aim to conserve our locally grown economic plant diversity and to make the local community aware of their local treasure. We raise awareness about these cultivars and make seeds available. The Botanic Gardens contribute towards the conservation of the local and traditional knowledge of regional economic plants.


En tant que professionnels des jardins botaniques, la plupart d’entre nous avons connaissance de la Stratégie Mondiale pour la Conservation des Plantes (SMCP). Adoptée légalement en 2002 par tous les gouvernements signataires de la Convention sur la diversité biologique, la SMPC nous apporte un cadre d’actions pour mettre en avant la conservation du végétal, son utilisation durable, le partage des bénéfices et la capitalisation de compétences au niveau local, national, régional et mondial, avec pour objectif ultime de stopper la perte de la diversité végétale.

Cependant, bien que nous soyons informés de cette stratégie importante, de nombreux jardins se demandent encore comment ils peuvent concrètement la mettre en œuvre. Cet article expose la façon dont le Jardin botanique de l’Université d’Oxford, au Royaume-Uni, et le Jardin botanique de l’Université de Bonn, en Allemagne, ont surmonté ce dilemme avec succès, et comment ils ont développé des programmes qui mettent en œuvre et expliquent la SMPC au grand public, tout en valorisant le travail effectué par les jardins pour atteindre les 16 objectifs.


La mayoría de los que trabajamos en jardines botánicos estamos conscientes de la Estrategia Global para la Conservación de las plantas (GSPC). Legalmente adoptada en 2002 por todos los gobiernos que han firmado la Convención sobre la Diversidad Biológica, la GSPC nos proporciona una plataforma para realizar acciones dirigidas a la conservación de las plantas, uso sostenible, repartición de beneficios y capacitación a nivel global, regional, nacional y local con el objetivo de parar la pérdida de la diversidad de plantas.

Sin embargo a pesar de esta estrategia importante, muchos jardines aún todavía cuestionan lo que ellos pueden hacer actualmente para contribuir a su implementación. Este artículo busca ilustrar como el Jardín Botánico de la Universidad de Oxford en el Reino Unido y los Jardines Botánicos de la Universidad de Bonn en Alemania han resuelto este dilema y han puesto en práctica programas que implementan e interpretan la GSPC para el público general, así como también como celebran cada trabajo del jardín que se realiza para alcanzar las 16 metas.

Junko Oikawa
BGCI Japan programme coordinator (until Dec 2008) now freelance consultant on horticulture, plant conservation and botanic gardens
Sürst 13
Rhinbach D-53359

Louise Allen
University of Oxford Botanic Garden
Rose Lane

Karoline Friedrich, Iris Kiefer, Wolfram Lobin, Marliese von den Driesch
University of Bonn Botanic Gardens
Meckenheimer Allee 171
D-53115 Germany
Web Site:

Cornelia Löhne
Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem
Koenigin-Luise-Strasse 6-8
 Berlin D-14195
Web Site:

The authors from the Bonn Botanic Gardens would like to acknowledge Markus Radscheit for his help with the English translation of the GSPC examples.