Botanic Gardens Linking Plants with Improvements to Healthcare
The importance of plants for healthcare has often been underestimated. However, the use of medicinal plants is not old-fashioned, or soley an alternative to traditional healthcare: it is estimated that 80% of the world's population depends directly on plant-based medicines for their healthcare (WHO, 2003).
The Role of Botanic Gardens
Many botanic gardens play an active role in medicinal plant study and research, cultivation and conservation. Relevant activities include:
- Working with communities to document and use indigenous and local knowledge
- Education on the value and uses of sustainably harvested medicinal plants
- Collecting and developing gene pools of wild stock plants, to ensure successful conservation.
- Research to discover and investigate medicinal and toxicity plant properties.
- Using collections to support local initiatives in primary health care, particularly in developing countries
- Using collections to support screening programmes for pharmaceutical companies, in accordance with guidelines on Access and Benefit Sharing, and to assay the value and safety of particular medicines
- Improving the agronomy of cultivated medicinal plants
- Cultivating medicinal plants, to tackle unsustainable wild harvesting and improve ease of harvest.
- Horticultural therapy, using plants and gardening to treat physical and mental disorders.
Examples of Botanic Gardens' Work
Please see the well-being case studies. Our section on conservation also holds relevant studies:
BGCI is currently planning projects to develop the role of botanic gardens in safeguarding medicinal plants and their use in healthcare, often in collaboration with partners relevant to healthcare and sustainable plant use.
A current project is assessing the role of botanic gardens in conserving and managing medicinal plants. We welcome any assistance with data collection: please contact us.