Botanic Gardens Conservation International
BGCI provides a global voice for all botanic gardens, championing and celebrating their inspiring work. We are the world's largest plant conservation network, open to all. Join us in helping to save the world's threatened plants.



Paul Smith - Secretary General

With a career spanning 25 years working in conservation, Paul joined BGCI as Secretary General in March 2015. He is the former Head of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) and, during his nine years at the helm, seeds from more than 25,000 plant species were conserved in the MSB. In addition, Paul promoted the concept of seed banks as a resource for human innovation, adaptation and resilience, and, today, seeds from the MSB and its partner seed banks are being used in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and habitat restoration.

Paul trained as a plant ecologist, and is a specialist in the plants and vegetation of southern Africa. He is the author of two field guides to the flora of south-central Africa, the editor of the Ecological Survey of Zambia and the co-author of the Vegetation Atlas of Madagascar. 

Suzanne Sharrock

Suzanne Sharrock - Director of Global Programmes

Suzanne Sharrock is BGCI's Director of Global Programmes and manages BGCI's website and technical publications. Suzanne is also co-editor of BGCI's twice-yearly botanic garden journal (BGjournal). Suzanne works on policy issues connected with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and provides support to the European Botanic Gardens Consortium.

Before joining BGCI, Suzanne worked for the International Plant Genetics Resources Institute (now Bioversity International) and has also worked on plant genetic resource projects in Nepal, Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Caribbean


Joachim Gratzfeld

Joachim Gratzfeld - Director of Regional Programmes

Joachim joined BGCI as Director of Regional Programmes in November 2006. In this capacity he manages BGCI’s programme development at regional and national levels, working with botanic gardens and affiliated organisations and partners in many parts of world, notably in China, South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East

Prior to joining BGCI, he was responsible for the implementation of numerous conservation projects and programmes, in particular capacity building in biodiversity conservation and dryland ecosystem management based at the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in Pakistan and Switzerland, the latter being his home country.

A trained field biologist and plant ecologist specialising in the interface between conservation and human development, Joachim has a keen interest in promoting botanic gardens as custodians of plant diversity through advancing their role in the integration of ex and in situ plant conservation efforts.

Dr Asimina Vergou - Head of Education

Asimina is leading the coordination and evaluation of BGCI Education projects ranging from the development of education resources to Growing the Social Role of Botanic Gardens and teacher training in Inquiry-Based Science Education.

Asimina’s experience in botanic gardens education has been developed through running the Learning programme of the Balkan Botanic Garden Kroussia in Greece but also through her PhD research which focused on the collaboration of Wakehurst Place, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew with local schools. Asimina's personal interest lies in organisational change in botanic gardens, raising the profile of botanic gardens’ education and turning the public on to plants.

Martha Love

Martha Love - Head of Finance

Martha manages the financial reporting for the organisation. She prepares and maintains both statutory and management accounting information, as well as controlling bank accounts, payments, receipts and Payroll.

Meirion Jones - Head of Information Management

Meirion is our database expert. Meirion is your contact for queries on PlantSearch and GardenSearch databases.

Malin Rivers - Red List Manager

Malin manages the red listing at BGCI. Her activities include undertaking and supporting red list assessments of Magnoliaceae, Theaceae, oaks and timber taxa. In addition to her role as Red List Manager, Malin is also the Secretary of the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group.

Malin previously worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and undertook a PhD evaluating the success of undertaking conservation assessments based on specimen and genetic data.

Kirsty Shaw  

Kirsty Shaw - Conservation Manager

Kirsty manages a range of conservation and restoration projects at BGCI. Her role includes managing the project Enhancing tree conservation and forest restoration in Africa; communications, project development and management for the Global Trees Campaign - a joint initiative between BGCI and Fauna & Flora International to safeguard the world's threatened tree species from extinction; and coordination of the Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens.

Ellie Barham - International Plant Sentinel Network Coordinator

Ellie is based at the Food and Environmental Research Agency in York and is responsible for establishing and maintaining partners in the International Plant Sentinel Network to identify and develop a system to link pest and pathogen diagnostics through the development of a database and information system.

Katherine O'Donnell - Global Seed Conservation Challenge Coordinator

Katherine coordinates the Global Seed Conservation Challenge – a joint partnership between BGCI and the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership. This project will focus on engaging the botanic garden community to work towards Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation by conserving seed of threatened taxa not already in ex situ collections. Katherine previously worked at the Herbaria in Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Edinburgh and has also worked as a Research Assistant at the Millennium Seed Bank.



Liliana Derewnicka

Liliana Derewnicka - Education Officer

Lili supports the running of BGCI Education. She is involved in the implementating Communities in Nature, co-editing BGCI's biannual education review, Roots, implementing the International Diploma Course in Botanic Garden Education, co-managing BGCI education's online communications and  coordinating BGCI's 9th International Congress on Education in Botanic Gardens. In addition, she supports BGCI's  communications and produces the e-newsletter, Cultivate.

Vivien Isaac

Vivien Isaac - Accounts Officer

Vivien has been with BGCI since 1986 and has got to know our members very well over the years.  She can answer your accounts queries and you can send your membership payments or donations to her!

Liz Smith  - Membership & Administration

Contact me for any information on BGCI membership including how to become a member and paying your subscriptions; I can also help you access our publications and with the advertising of your events and job or intern opportunities.




Emily Beech - Conservation Assistant

Emily is supporting BGCI's work on the Global Trees Campaign. She is currently working on an ex situ survey of Betulaceae collections, and an ex situ survey of Critically Endangered and Endangered trees. She is also supporting tree red listing activities at BGCI.


International BGCI Team

Xiangying Wen

Xiangying Wen - BGCI China Executive Director

Xiangying manages BGCI's projects in China.

Based at the South China Botanical Garden, CAS, Guangzhou-Guangdong province.  The BGCI China Programme is working alongside China's botanic garden community to help implement the plan focusing on three major areas they are:

Kate Sackman - BGCI U.S. Executive Director

Kate Sackman brings entrepreneurial and business skills to the role of BGCI U.S. Executive Director, combined with over 25 years of experience in conservation. She is a lifelong devotee to environmental causes, including land preservation and environmental education. Kate founded EcoMyths Alliance, a nonprofit company that creates humorous environmental science articles, radio shows, and K-12 STEM educational programs to empower people to make eco-friendly choices in their daily lives. Prior to starting EcoMyths, Kate spent her career as an entrepreneur in the private sector including as founder and president of a diagnostic radiology company. She built EcoMyths as a way to help its scientific partners to bring credible and accessible science to a public hungry for personally usable and actionable information about the environment.

Abby Hird - BGCI U.S. Program Director

Abby facilitates public garden plant conservation efforts by improving BGCI's data services and increasing awareness of the resources available to living botanical collections. Prior to joining BGCI U.S., Abby completed the Longwood Graduate Program at the University of Delaware, and worked as a Putnam Research Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. Abby's office is based in southern California. She currently serves on the Board of the Magnolia Society International, recruits for the North American Plant Collections Consortium (NAPCC), and facilitates Earthwatch Expeditions.

Dr. Igor A. Smirnov - Chairman, BGCI Russia

Nikita Mergelov - Assistant, BGCI Russia

Murphy Westwood - Global Tree Conservation Officer

Murphy is based at The Morton Arboretum in Chicago, U.S.A, where she works as a Tree Conservation Specialist. BGCI and The Morton Arboretum have recently signed an MOU for collaborative work on the Global Trees Campaign. In her new role as Global Tree Conservation Officer, Murphy will operate as a US-based representative for the Global Trees Campaign. The Morton Arboretum will take a leading role in undertaking Red List assessments of Oaks, updating and adding to the previous BGCI publication which assessed approximately half of the world's Oak species.

BGCI Interns and Volunteers

Simon Barber 

Simon has volunteered with BGCI for 6 years and assists with the publication of "Roots" the BGCI Education e-journal.





Neville Evans

Neville is currently studying on the three year Diploma in Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.  Neville is particularly interested in the flora of the Caribbean and Central America and has establish the Caribbean and Central American Botanic Garden Network which can be found at the following pages:



Luis Roberto Gonzalez Torres - Canada

Luis is from Cuba and currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He is helping BGCI with the translation into Spanish of the Communities in Nature report and will be growing our network of botanic gardens and arboreta in Canada.




Garance Wood-Moulin  - BGCI Intern

Garance has been an intern at BGCI since early 2014. She is currently helping develop interpretation materials for energy gardens. 



If you are interested in gaining valuable experience as a volunteer in the plant conservation sector please contact us at with your current CV and a brief description of your interests.

To contact a specific member of staff or intern by email, our address format is - First name, period, second name followed by