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Botanic Gardens Using Plant Diversity for Social and Community Benefits

This aspect of well-being focuses on non-material benefits that can be hard to quantify, such as political empowerment, improved social networks and community cohesion, reduced vulnerability and freedom from fear of violence.  Although these benefits may be hard to measure they are nevertheless key to quality of life and are often highlighted as crucial to well-eing by the poor themselves (Bass et al., 2005).  Plants can be used in many diverse ways to provide to improve this aspect of well-being, from improve state of mind, to reducing violence in the community.

The Role of Botanic Gardens

There many wide-ranging and diverse ways in which botanic gardens can link plant diversity with improvements to human well-being, so the points below are by no means exhaustive!

Urban greening is the improvement of neighbourhood quality through planting and green landscaping.  The benefits of such projects are far more than aesthetic: they can reduce crime, improve social networks, and impove individual feelings of adjustment.

Cultural centres and places of spirituality - botanic gardens sometimes contain important spiritual places, and are often important community spaces, especially in urban areas which otherwise have little access to greenery.  Botanic gardens often host community events and processes, such as urban planning, and many make especial efforts to ensure that all members of society are comfortable in visiting the garden.

Working with disadvantaged members of society and minorities.  Mnay activities that improve well-being have been especially targeted to ensure that they help the members of society who most need it.  Other projects can be set up to target the problems of disadvantaged people, for example, to work with war veterans who find it difficult to re-integrate into society, or to work with jobless people who find it difficult to acquire skills they need for employment.

Case studies

Visit our list of well-being case studies for some current and recent projects which have contributed to improved community and social well-being


Community Engagement


Indigenous and Local Knowledge


Bronx Green-Up

Bronx Green-Up (BGU) works with individuals and community groups to improve deprived urban neighbourhoods through ‘greening’. New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) has run this programme since 1987.



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3 October 2005
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Cultivate, BGCI's regular e-bulletin brings you opinion, comment, case studies and surveys for and about the world's botanic gardens. Sign up today - click the link.
S. Kumar (1999), Methods for Community Participation
This title combines the concept, practice and application of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) in a comprehensive manner.