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Botanical Bridges - a conference of the Caribbean and Central American Botanic Garden Network

21 October 2016


The Caribbean and Central American Botanic Garden Network (CCABGN) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) hosted the Botanical Bridges conference in Panama from 19-23 September 2016.

Support for the conference was provided by Missouri Botanical Garden, Naples Botanical Garden, the Montgomery Botanical Centre, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Summit Municipal Park and Biomuseo.

Over 64 botanical professionals representing 18 countries from across the region attended the conference to discuss the core issues affecting botanic gardens. All sessions were simultaneously translated for English and Spanish speakers to ensure inclusion and understanding from all those attending.

The conference consisted of a mix of presentations and working group sessions, with sessions focusing on funding for botanic gardens, education and interpretation, community outreach and training and capacity development.

The final session of the conference focused on the development of a sustainable network, with a steering group of six individuals being established to guide the network for the next 2 years until the next meeting in 2018. The conference welcomed and accepted the offer by Cuba to host this meeting.
The Committee will consist of:

  • Network coordinator (Neville Evans)
  • BGCI representative
  • Representative from existing conference host country (Panama)
  • Representative from next conference host country (Cuba)
  • Representative from the Caribbean islands (St Vincent)
  • Representative from French-speaking Caribbean (Haiti)

Members of the Steering Committee, (from left to right): Gordon Shallow- St. Vincent Botanic Garden, St. Vincent, Edgar Arauz-Parque, Municipal Summit, Panama, Nora Hernandez Monterrey, Jardin Botanico Nacional de Cuba, Cuba, Neville Evans- CCABGN, William Cinea- Cayes Botanic Garden, Haiti


The Network coordinator will also be assisted by numerous individuals and institutions who have generously committed time and resources to help and support the work of the network to ensure its success. These include amongst others:

  • Naples Botanic Garden (newsletter and communications
  • Mario Blanco (Spanish translation)
  • William Cinea (French translation)
  • Leon Levy Plant Preserve (Resource Survey)
  • Gordon Shallow (social media)

In addition, all conference attendees committed to promoting the CCABGN to gardens that are not currently involved and actively networking in the region, including the Caribbean areas of South America. Where possible, countries will identify a national focal point to coordinate network activities.
The session highlighted 5 key achievable and quantifiable objectives for the network to focus on:

Objective 1. Updating of Plant Search for regional botanic gardens.

Objective 2. Updating of Garden Search across the Caribbean and Central America (Both objectives 1 and 2 assist with measuring progress towards Target 8 of the GSPC – ex situconservation)

Objective 3. Participation in published biannual newsletters providing information on events, exchanges, indices seminum, training and funding opportunities etc.

Objective 4. Participation in the Resource Survey to set capacity benchmarks to identify gaps and opportunities for capacity building. This survey will be the foundation for the development of a programme for the Cuba conference 2018.

Objective 5. Compilation of a comprehensive list of relevant and current grants and funders to assist gardens to achieve the GSPC targets.

The Caribbean and Central American Botanic Garden Network would like to thank the institutions that supported Botanical Bridges 2016 and all those who attended and contributed making the conference a great success.

A more complete summary of the conference can be downloaded here in English or in Spanish

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