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News from Chinese Botanic Gardens

Volume 2 Number 7 - December 1996

Li Mei

Meeting of The Botanic Gardens Committee, Chinese Academy of Sciences

The Botanic Gardens Committee, Chinese Academy of Sciences discussed the main scientific research work and some development aspects of Chinese botanic gardens at a four-day meeting held at the South China Botanical Garden, Guangzhou in December 1994. The delegates discussed the problems of applying for Natural Science Funds for botanic gardens. All the participants agreed that in future, botanic gardens should focus on comparative research of the genetic variation between populations in cultivation and the original wild populations. This research will help to demonstrate the amount of genetic diversity contained in the smallest ex situ populations. This point highlighted the importance of having accurate plant records in botanic gardens which are necessary for research. Many botanic gardens only have a few species with reliable records for research, of which most are woody plants. This research cannot be undertaken with herbs due to incomplete records made during the collection and preservation of their seeds. This underlines the importance of plant record systems in botanic gardens. During the meeting, the new construction plan of the South China Botanical Garden and the extension of the Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden were also discussed. The Chinese Academy of Sciences will invest the equivalent of millions of US dollars for these projects in the two botanic gardens. Dr He Shan-an represented Nanjing Botanical Garden Mem. Sun YatÄSen, at the meeting - the first time NBG was represented since its return to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. All the participants were pleased with the increasing strength of both the Botanic Gardens Committee and the Botanic Gardens of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The South China Botanical Garden

The South China Botanical Garden will walk into 21st Century with a new look. Its new area of 703 mus (47 hectares) is being designed. The South China Botanical Garden and South China Institute of Botany have decided to use a total area of 1,500 mus (100 hectares), including this new area, for the purpose of display and education. This area thus will become an area for topographical research according to its natural ecological features and will be open to the public. Specialized gardens with landscapes from the middle of Guangdon Province will be laid out in this Garden. There was a proposal to develop a specialized garden, such as an azalea or ginger garden, but all the participants agreed that specialized gardens of this type had the disadvantage of being monocultures. So a new approach of setting up specialized gardens combined with a natural ecological system was put forward. This will be a significant trend in the future construction of Chinese botanic gardens.

Xishuangbannan Tropical Botanical Garden

Xishuangbannan Tropical Botanical Garden will be enlarged gradually, and it will become the biggest Chinese botanic garden. The present finished Garden occupies only one fifth of its total area. In the period of the 9th five-year plan, the Garden will be further enlarged. Xishuangbannan Botanical Garden is on the Chinese border and is important for eco-tourism and development. In January 1995, a seminar about eco-tourism was held here. The protection and use of plant species still remains an important task for the Garden.

Shanghai Botanical Garden

Shanghai Botanical Garden is planning to build the largest greenhouse in a Chinese botanic garden. The Garden holds an important position in Chinese botanic gardens. It receives millions of visitors each year. Considering the needs of visitors and scientific education, Shanghai Municipal Government decided to invest 50,000,000 RMB (6 million US$) to build a greenhouse. Engineers and scientists are making active plans for its construction. Shanghai Botanical Garden is famous for its ornamental plants, especially bonsai plants. It is one of the major organizations which promotes and sells bonsai plants in China. The addition of the greenhouse will give Shanghai Botanical Garden a more significant place in Chinese botanic gardens. It is a shining star for the city residents.

Living Collection Information System (LICIS)

The Living Collection Information System (LICIS) developed by NBG has passed appraisal. The work was finished after four year's hard work. Developed on the basis of ORACLE and dBASEIII, combined with C language, LICIS includes a computerized management system of plant mapping and living collections information. The computerized management system consists of several functions of input, enquiry, maintenance and output. LICIS consists of 4 subsystems: management of plant encoding, management of living collections, management of dead plants and management of seed exchange. Each subsystem includes functions of input, search and statistics, maintenance of data and print. The system possesses high efficiency of data management, safety of procedural design as well as the practicality of functions and information items. By continuous improvement and development, LICIS is not only the first plant records management system but has also become the most fully-developed management system in China. After random tests on several items, the expert group concluded that LICIS occupies a leading position in this field in China and the world and is well worth publicising.

Jiangsu Provincial Keylab

On November 5 1994, Jiangsu Provincial Keylab for ex situ Plant Conservation passed its examination and appraisal by the Qualification and Acceptance Committee organized by Jiangsu Provincial Committee of Science and Technology. The committee consists of three Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and eight specialists in this field in China. The Keylab, located in Nanjing Botanical Garden Mem. Sun Yat-Sen was established in 1990. The Keylab is the only institute for ex situ plant conservation in China.

It involves 8 research groups:

(1) Population Ecology

(2) Cytology

(3) Molecular Biology

(4) Tissue Culture

(5) Stress Physiology

(6) Propagation and Cultivation

(7) Tree-Ring Ecology

(8) Living Collection Information Systems.


Its three technical sections are:

(1) Introduction and seed exchange

(2) Propagation greenhouse and plant introduction quarantine nursery

(3) Living plant collections