Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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BGCI appoints new Secretary General

15 December 2014

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) appoints new Secretary General

Professor Stephen Blackmore, Chairman of BGCI, is delighted to announce that, following a search process that attracted an exceptionally strong field of candidates, Dr Paul Smith has been appointed as the next Secretary General of BGCI and will take up the post in February 2015.  Well known internationally for his leadership of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, Paul brings a wealth of experience in plant conservation and research to the role. 

Professor Blackmore said, “Paul Smith is a worthy successor to Sara Oldfield who has led BGCI with such distinction for the last decade.  I am confident that he will further strengthen BGCI’s international partnerships, supporting botanic gardens in every aspect of their work and tackling the urgent priorities identified in the Plant Conservation Report 2014.”

Accepting the appointment, Paul Smith said “I am both excited and honoured to be appointed as the Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International. I have had the pleasure of working with Sara Oldfield and the excellent BGCI team over many years and I know first-hand that BGCI is highly regarded internationally for its work in plant conservation policy and practice. I very much look forward to working with BGCI’s partners on the urgent challenge of preventing plant species extinctions, and I wish Sara every success in her future endeavours.”

Dr Paul Smith is the former Head of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) – the largest and most diverse seed bank in the world. During his nine years at the helm, seeds from more than 25,000 plant species were conserved in the MSB and, in 2009, the MSB achieved its first significant milestone, securing seed from 10% of the world’s plant species, prioritising rare, threatened and useful plants. Since then, the MSB and its 170 partner institutions in 80 countries around the world have set themselves the target of conserving 25% of the world’s flora by 2020. The ultimate aim is to bank the seed of all plant species and to make that seed available for use in the landscape. During the last five years, Paul and his team have 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 and the Vegetation Atlas of Madagascar. He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society and the Royal Geographical Society.


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