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.

Global Warning at St Paul's Cathedral

11 October 2006
Fig trees feature at several points in the Bible 

 Certain trees, such as the fig, appear many times
in the Bible and now feature in the St Paul's
exhibition on global warming.

Olive trees, palms, fig trees, and a cedar of Lebanon are among a collection of trees which has been transported from Sussex for a living exhibition which opened 3rd October at St Paul's Cathedral in London.

The Millennium Seed Bank Project Kew, based at Wakehurst Place in Ardingly, West Sussex and part of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has been invited to create a Trees of Life installation at St Paul's.

The cathedral display, featuring trees from the bible, is part of a programme of autumn events at the cathedral, organised by the St Paul's Institute, called Costing the Earth? The Quest for Sustainability.

The exhibition runs until 6 December during which time it is expected to have been viewed by around 700,000 people.  The collection of trees includes a Mauritius bottle palm which was grown from seed at the Millennium Seed Bank, as part of project work to conserve and protect the species. Garden staff from Wakehurst Place transported the trees to London for the exhibition.

The exhibition focuses on the impact of climate change and highlights the vital importance of protecting plants threatened by global warming. It also provides information on the trees' theological significance.

The Millennium Seed Bank Project is the largest seed bank for wild plant species in the world, and aims to collect, conserve and research seed from 10% of the world's plants by 2010. The seeds stored in the seed bank are an insurance policy against the threat caused by climate change.

A series of educational workshops will be organised for primary and secondary school pupils by Wakehurst Place's learning team, in conjunction with the exhibition, to show how everyone can make a difference and play their part in tackling global warming.

Dr Paul Smith, Head of Millennium Seed Bank Project, said:  "Taking trees to a cathedral is one of the most unusual requests we have received, and we are delighted to have been invited to take part in this prestigious exhibition. It is a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the need to protect the environment and the threat from global warning, and highlight the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Project in protecting species under threat from climate change."

The Millennium Seed Bank is working in partnership with around 30 countries across the world and activities include monitoring the effects of climate change on plant diversity, banking the seed of wild species, reintroducing threatened species to the wild, and restoring natural habitats.

Canon Edmund Newell, Director St Paul's Institute, said:  "Responding to climate change and learning to live sustainably is something that affects each and every one of us. St Paul's Cathedral is delighted to be working in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst Place on this project, to raise awareness of moral and spiritual dimension of these vital issues as well as highlight the amazing work of the Millennium Seed Bank project."

St Paul's Institute was founded in 2002 as a public forum for reflection and debate on the spiritual and ethical challenges of our times, including environmental and social issues.

Find out more on the St Paul's website.

Back to news archive