Sign up to our newsletter:

The history of BGCI

BGCI was established in 1987 as a small secretariat under the auspices of the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

BGCI is now the leading international organisation working to save the world’s imperilled flora.

Some of our greatest achievements are:

Building the World’s Largest Plant Conservation Network

BGCI’s membership and larger network has grown consistently over the years, reaching across every continent. The organisation now unites over 700 members and other partners from 118 countries worldwide, all committed to saving the world’s threatened plants. BGCI helps gardens connect with each other and these links can generate huge, positive change for individuals, gardens and local communities.

Developing a Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

Although BGCI was not alone in developing the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, it is widely acknowledged that the drive and leadership provided by BGCI was fundamental in ensuring its ultimate adoption by 187 countries under the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002. By adopting the GSPC, the world’s governments are committed to “halt the current and continuing loss of plant diversity” by 2010.

Conserving Threatened Plants

Through a unique database, and with the help of hundreds of botanic gardens worldwide, BGCI has documented over 150,000 plants in cultivation in botanic gardens. This includes over 12,000 species which are under threat of extinction in the wild. BGCI is presently working on recovery programmes for over 500 threatened plant species.

Providing a Framework for Conservation Action in Botanic Gardens

The International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation, published in 2000, is probably the most important document produced by BGCI in its 20 year history. 472 botanic gardens from 83 countries have officially ‘signed’ the Agenda thus formally confirming their commitment to plant conservation. The International Agenda is recognised as the framework document guiding the actions of botanic gardens in conservation and has been translated into many languages, including Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, Latvian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.

Building Capacity for Conservation

BGCI has carried out training courses and workshops in many countries around the world - with a focus on transferring technologies to where they are required. Over the last five years, nearly 2,000 botanic garden staff have received training in plant conservation techniques.

Reaching Young Audiences

BGCI has developed a strong focus on education. Over the last five years, around 80,000 children have participated in BGCI-supported education programmes and more than 1,000 teachers in Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia have been trained in how to use botanic gardens as outdoor classrooms.

Raising Public Awareness of Plant Conservation Needs and Issues

In recent years, over 2 million people have visited BGCI-supported public exhibitions held by botanic gardens and other partners in countries from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to Vietnam, Lao, Indonesia and China. The common aim of all these exhibitions is to highlight the importance of plants to human-kind and draw attention to the threats they face.

Towards the Future – Taking a Lead on Climate Change

Climate change is a major threat to plant diversity, and rates of extinction are likely to increase as global temperatures rise. In 2006, BGCI was one of the convenors of a meeting of experts who, through the “Gran Canaria Declaration on Climate Change and Plant Conservation” called on governments to take urgent action to increase protection for the world’s plants.