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A Vital Role for Botanic Garden Educators: the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and You!

Sarah Kneebone, Education Officer, BGCI


Plants are a vital part of the worlds’ biodiversity and an essential resource for human well-being. Yet, despite our reliance on them, a crisis point has been reached – it is thought that between 60,000 – 100,000 plant species are threatened worldwide.

In 2002 a Global Strategy for Plant Conservation was legally adopted by all governments who are signatories of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Using a clear set of targets, the GSPC provides 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 to halt the loss of plant diversity.

Target 14 of the strategy involves 'Promoting education and public awareness about plant diversity: The importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation incorporated into communication, educational and public-awareness programmes'. At the request of the CBD secretariat, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) is facilitating discussions on Target 14 and has been working on consultations to produce targets and milestones for its achievement. Botanic garden educators are a major stakeholder within the biodiversity education field and BGCI is keen to gain their input.

See the article below for more inforamtion about the GSPC and use the links to get involved.

What are the targets of the GSPC?

Who is involved with the GSPC?

What is the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation?

How are botanic garden educators currently supporting the GSPC?

Get involved with the consultation on Target 14 – let your voice be heard!

Find out more and download the GSPC 

What is the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and where did it come from?

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) outlines a series of targets through which the ultimate aim of halting the current and continuing loss of plant diversity can be achieved. The strategy provides a framework to ‘facilitate harmony between existing initiatives aimed at plant conservation, to identify gaps where new initiatives are required, and to promote mobilization of the necessary resources.’ Its mission is to ‘be a tool to enhance the ecosystem approach for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and focus on the vital role of plants in the structure and functioning of ecological systems’ (GSPC 2002).

It was initiated at the Botanical Congress in St Louis 1999, with a call for plant conservation to be recognised as an urgent international priority. Following this, interested parties met in Gran Canaria, Spain, and produced a declaration. The declaration was presented to the CBD, who then agreed that a specific strategy for plant conservation was needed. The initial production of the Global Strategy was in conjunction with many national and international organisations, such as World Conservation Union (IUCN), International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), WWF and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. (UNESCO), WWF and BGCI (Wyse Jackson, 2001, 2003). These organisations now act as ‘lead’ partners to arrange a series of consultations to agree on subtargets, practical measure and milestones for one particular adopted target. For a list of lead partners and their contact details click here.


What are the aims of the GSPC?

The specific aims of the GSPC can be grouped into five main themes;

  • “Understanding and documenting plant diversity, through databases, monitoring of populations and research.
  • “Conserving plant diversity, with both in-situ and ex-situ programmes, with special attention to conservation of species with direct importance to human societies.
  • “Using plant diversity sustainably, involving trafficking controls and supporting the fair and equitable sharing of benefits
  • “Promoting education and awareness about plant diversity
  • “Building capacity for the conservation of plant diversity, through networking and enhancing infrastructure and human resources.” (GSPC 2002)

The strategy outlines the different aspects of these aims in a series of 16 targets. Each of these is explained with terms and technical rationale. For a summary list of the targets, click here, for the full document with terms and rationale, click here.

It is the achievement of these targets and themes which will lead to the ultimate goal – to halt the current and continuing loss of plant diversity.


Why is the GSPC relevant to botanic gardens?

Most of the targets which have been agreed on are directly pertinent to botanic gardens, through their work on ex-situ conservation and research – many gardens provide valuable contributions in their work towards all 16 of the targets. Target 14 is of particular relevance to botanic garden educators, it provides a legislative defence of the validity of education in botanic gardens and highlights its importance in the efforts for plant conservation. For a summary list of targets, click here


So, we’ve got the targets, what now?

The next step of the process is to work out exactly how the targets are to be implemented, identifying their component parts so that activities and milestones can be suggested to set up projects and measure their achievement. The GSPC targets are subject to continual consultation as part of the decision making process leading to definite conservation results. Lead partners for each target coordinate consultations with relevant stakeholders who propose practical suggestions for taking the GSPC forward. These lead partners meet regularly to report on progress within their consultations, whether these are local, national or international. For example, IUCN and Plantlife international are working on a proposal for the implementation of Targets 2 and 5. They plan to submit this proposal for funding to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

Given that botanic garden educators are relevant stakeholders in most of the GSPC targets, it is important for educators to contact the relevant lead organisations and CBD focal points in their countries to express their commitment to this process.

To take part in the consultation on Target 14 of the GSPC – The importance of plant diversity and the needs for its conservation incorporated into communication, educational and public-awareness programmes, click here.

Target 14 – The importance of plant diversity and the needs for its conservation incorporated into communication, educational and public-awareness programmes

The inclusion of this target into the GSPC means that it focuses people on the inclusion of plants – their conservation, diversity and importance, into environmental education and thus to the general public. Creating active support for plant conservation by empowering the general public through increased knowledge, appreciation and understanding of plants is a vital aspect of the GSPC. As with many conservation issues, the support of the masses is critical to its success.

The beauty of Target 14 is that anyone involved with environmental education, formal (i.e. schools) and informal, for all age groups, can play an active role in its achievement. We currently have lots of case studies on our website and published in Roots, but we need more to include on the website to inspire others – so please let us know what you are doing! Submit your case study or story to

We need your help! What do you think should happen with target 14, how should we measure how successful it is? What milestones and activities can we use to judge this? Let us know your thoughts here.

What are the implications of the GSPC for educators in botanic garden?

There are many aspects of work for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation that botanic garden educators can become involved with and use to their advantage;

  • Support the development of education programmes to implement Target 14.
  • Develop the capacity of all staff to implement Target 14 – as capacity building is part of GSPC anyway.
  • Ensure that educators are represented in workshops concerned with the implementation of other GSPC targets
  • Become involved with stakeholder meetings within their own country.
  • Contribute to the online consultation – click here for more.
  • Publicise their work through the BGCI and CEPA websites.

CEPA stands for Communication, Education and Public Awareness. The CEPA programme was created by the CBD to address Article 13, i.e. education about biodiversity. A part of this programme is the CEPA portal, click here to access it.


For more information about the GSPC and the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation, have a look at their website,



Many thanks go to the members of BGEN who took part in the questionnaire on their education programmes and the GSPC.


Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2002) “Global Strategy for Plant Conservation”

Wyse Jackson, P. (2003), Progress in the implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, Botanic Gardens Conservation News, vol. 3, no. 10

Wyse Jackson, P. (2001), Progress towards a Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, Botanic Gardens Conservation News, vol. 3, no. 6

For more information on the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, click here or look at the website of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation,
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