Sign up to our newsletter:

eurogard97 - Reports from the Plenary Sessions

Volume 2 Number 8 - July 1997
Anon.

Holistic and integrated biodiversity research is one of the sciences of our times and botanic gardens should reflect it. Biodiversity and its conservation turned out to be one of the cross-sectional topics of the "eurogard97" conference. Indeed, botanic gardens are collecting, studying, using, handling, exchanging, presenting and conserving biodiversity. Biodiversity conservation is the old new paradigm for botanic gardens.

All contributors to this conference session on botanic gardens and biodiversity pointed out that the world of botanic gardens is changing dynamically and that they must respond to urgent requirements and - if it has not happened up to now - leave their ivory towers.

Wilhelm Barthlott (Bonn, Germany) illustrated that biodiversity is very unevenly represented in the BGs of the world, that the world's biodiversity is very unevenly distributed over the continents, and that one continent is the prominent diversity centre of BGs: Europe! Heritage and commitment for the whole world.

Of course, within Europe, both biodiversity and BGs, are also very unevenly distributed.

Kyriacos Georghiou (Athens, Greece) made clear the paradox of Greece: high biodiversity and a low priority for BGs. He explained the vital task of promoting the Greek botanic gardens and setting priorities for their activities. In this country the concentration on the native flora is extremely important.

Steve Waldren (Dublin,Ireland) informed the audience about an excellent approach to the conservation of the native flora of Ireland. He proved that it is possible for every small garden to do wonderful things even with a small budget: like, e.g., establishing an ex situ gene bank with clear and strict protocols.

Of course, there is more to botanic gardens than ex situ conservation.

Pedro Tiscar Oliver (Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Spain) in a paper read by Francisco Villamandos de la Torre (C¢rdoba, Spain) showed that the often claimed integration of ex situ and in situ conservation already has become reality at the Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla, Spain. The participants of the conference learned that this integration is not possible without problems and that it is necessary to avoid mistakes.

Problems are to be solved permanently.

Kerry ten Kate (Kew, U.K.) made clear the SWOTs (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) of the botanic gardens in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Strengths and Opportunities to be aware of and to convert in relevant actions - but also Weakness and Threats to be avoided. One fact is obvious: CBD creates a golden opportunity for botanic gardens and they just have got to make good use of it.

Reporter: Pierre Ibisch (Botanischer Garten Bonn, Germany)

CONFERENCE SESSION 2
SPREADING THE WORD: BOTANIC GARDENS AND EDUCATION

In considering the theme of this session it emerged that education is something that botanic gardens do and many do well as they strive to influence and change attitudes with regard to the natural environment as a whole - even though the results are often difficult to evaluate.

Among the conclusions that emerged were these key points:

  • Let us take education in botanic gardens seriously. It is something to be given the importance - the technical status - of any other aspect of a botanical garden's scientific work
  • Let us make connections. We must home in to what is relevant to children and adults - like medicinal plants, art and design, or fun activities, using media familiar to those we are trying to educate - using the senses, and multimedia (and after all children today are more familiar with multimedia computers than with the parts of a flower, let alone the genetics)
  • And finally and significantly for a scientific gathering, let's make an emotional connection. We have to get people to OBSERVE, KNOW, LOVE and hence PROTECT, using the head, the hand and the heart, and through these to positive action in the future - with the aim, at least of making children realise that tomatoes do not grow on supermarket shelves, but the mould on them might

Reporter: John Cortes (Gibraltar Botanic Gardens)

CONFERENCE SESSION 3
DEFINING A SHARED MISSION: NETWORKING EUROPEAN BOTANIC GARDENS


Prof. Robert Marrs (Ness, U.K.) in chairing this session, emphasised the need to define new ethics for our time, within a framework for partnership and co-operation. This theme was elaborated by other speakers who highlighted the importance of collaboration, personal contacts and the dissemination and exchange of information. Collaboration between botanic gardens and other agencies, such as conservation organisations and national parks, gave the chance for all to play their part in a national strategy. Personal contacts and the exchange of information, though meetings, workshops, newsletters and the world wide web, enable large organisations to help smaller ones and raise awareness of issues locally and to the general public. All these activities help to make people feel involved in developing a shared mission.

The activities of the networks in France, Germany and Italy were outlined in this session, but there were also representatives at the conference from active networks in The Netherlands, Macaronesia, the U.K. and elsewhere.

CONFERENCE SESSION 4
BOTANIC GARDENS - A PART OF EUROPEAN HERITAGE

This session had as its subject the heritage value of European botanic gardens. Timothy Walker (Oxford, U.K.) demonstrated clearly that the idea of heritage can be interpreted in many different ways according to one's historical, architectural, cultural, scientific or botanical perspective.

Prof Fabio Garbari (Pisa, Italy) illustrated the historical and heritage perspective by his talk on Italian botanic gardens. These historical gardens, sometimes more than 400 years old, form a living memory of past centuries. Apart from their many purposes, botanic gardens were also places of artistic endeavour, where a high level of collaboration between artist and botanist was achieved, as shown by the remarkable illustrations from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Luigi Minuto (Genoa, Italy) discussed the importance of knowing the history of these historical gardens to integrate their heritage into their daily work. But remembering history is not to say that we have an old fashioned outlook, but means that we must continually seeking a balance between respect for heritage and the pleasure of modernity.

Martin Gardner (Edinburgh, Scotland) illustrated this last point by the example of the conservation of conifers in botanic gardens. In this case, where the heritage concerned is botanical, the value is measured by studying the genetic diversity of the population that is conserved ex situ. Such investigations are indispensable to properly judging the scientific value a of collection.

On account of their history, their architecture and their collections, the 350 European botanic gardens form an important part of the heritage of our continent.

In a permanent state of change for several centuries, they know how to adapt themselves for different roles. As regards the future, they must retain flexibility in order to secure their heritage and to capitalise on their strengths.

Reporter: Romeric Pierrel (Conservatoire et Jardins Botaniques de Nancy, France)

CONFERENCE SESSION 5
BOTANIC GARDENS AND SCIENCE: DEFINING RESEARCH PRIORITIES FOR EUROPEAN BOTANIC GARDENS


Three specific areas were targeted by the speakers in this session as important priorities for action within botanic gardens. These are:

  • Molecular techniques: ever since the basics of genetics were developed by Mendel, improvements in understanding heredity has led to improved understanding of phylogeny, evolution and taxonomy. Over the last few years there have been enormous improvements in our understanding of DNA structure and the development of techniques for analysing plant genomes. The speakers outlined some of these techniques, but pointed out that we were only starting to scratch the surface. It is inevitable that over the next few years there will be an explosion of new information available on the genetic structure of plants. This will allow us to develop new assessments of phylogeny, a new understanding of evolution and plant biogeography and help us to settle many taxonomic problems.

However, we must not do this uncritically. It is important we go forward into this new age with a series of wellÄdefined questions to answer. The use of any form of molecular technique should be enquiry-led, rather than technique-driven.

  • Conservation: traditionally botanic gardens are involved in ex situ conservation, where they act as safe havens for plants that are teetering on the brink of survival. As we move into the 21st century, botanic gardens are being increasingly asked to help with recovery programmes and in situ conservation initiatives. This is, in principle, a good thing, but we should make sure that we liaise with experts in conservation biology and ecologists to ensure that the maximum benefit for plant conservation is obtained. A major deficiency in our understanding of conservation biology is the lack of knowledge about plant reproductive biology and population dynamics (autecology). It may be possible to learn something from the work done in Britain through the Biological Floras of the British Isles and the Ecoflora initiative. It is also important to remember that individual plants and their population dynamics are only one part of the communities that have to be conserved in situ and in order to have sustainable plant communities we need a lot more integration with work on real ecosystems.
  • The public understanding of science was noted as a major priority for botanic gardens. Botanic gardens are one of the few areas where real science can be shown in action to the general public and we should never neglect this aspect.

Reporter: Robert Marrs (Ness Botanic Gardens, Liverpool, U.K.)

CONFERENCE SESSION 6
BUILDING CAPACITY FOR ACTION

All the speakers touched on the two all-important capacities of human and institutional abilities and made the following points:

  • Human capacity. The Management skills required today must be learnt from outside expertise, and management audits provide a means for evaluating and correcting performance. The levels of such management must take into account the developing range of responsibilities, especially in relation to national sensitivities over the CBD, and the justification of in situ vs. ex situ activities. A major capacity deficit today is the imbalance suffered by the expertiseÄpoor, but biologicallyÄrich countries of the world. Diplomatic skills are no less important with such projects as the conservation of the flora of European Dependent Territories, and the Tr‚sor Rainforest project in French Guiana.
  • Institutional capacity. The profile of plants and botanic gardens within such organisations as IUCN and other large NGOs is insufficiently high, and PLANTA EUROPA has been established with the specific aim of redressing this problem. The development of corporate sponsorship has proved of enormous benefit, not just financially, but statusÄwise for an increasing number of botanic gardens.
  • Financial capacity. This was one area not touched on by many speakers, except in outlining its inevitable disadvantages. World recession as a major contributing factor to declining funding has clearly been exacerbated by poor forward planning, and a perceived low value of botanic gardens. Professional skills are needed to counter these problems, and it will be only once the human and institutional capacities are strengthened and fully realised that botanic gardens can raise their value in the eyes of governments and the general public.

Reporter: Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Ireland)

 

Workshop: Convention on Biological Diversity: Defining Botanic Garden Roles and Responsibilities
Leader: Kerry Ten Kate (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.)

This workshop built on the paper delivered in Conference Session 1 on the significance of the Convention on Biological Diversity for botanic gardens.

Kerry Ten Kate presented a review of the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on access to genetic resources and the sharing of benefits to the workshop, together with information on the measures that individual countries are taking to regulate access to genetic resources at the national level.

Over 50 participants attended the workshop, and 40 completed questionnaires on how gardens' policies on the acquisition, supply and management of genetic resources comply with the letter and spirit of the CBD. The questions covered the range of genetic resources with which botanic gardens deal (e.g. of seeds, living plant materials, herbarium specimens, fungi, DNA samples and biochemicals); from whom, how and under what terms gardens acquire genetic resources and to whom, how and on what terms they supply them. The kinds of policies on collections, guidelines for staff, and benefit-sharing were covered, as were the use of material transfer agreements, management procedures and gardens' perceptions of the CBD.

The workshop explored the scope of the provisions of the CBD on access and benefit-sharing and their implications for botanic gardens, the need for collaboration between botanic gardens to develop a common approach to these issues, possible next steps, and how these issues could be integrated by the IABG/BGCI European Consortium into a European Action Plan for Botanic Gardens.

The workshop concluded:

  • Awareness raising: More tools (such as the paper by RBG, Kew and BGCI on Botanic Gardens and the CBD) are needed to educate the staff of botanic gardens on the CBD and its implications
  • Action Plan: The significance and implications of the CBD should be set out in the introductory section of the European Action Plan for Botanic Gardens to be developed by the IABG/BGCI European Consortium. Reference to the provisions of the CBD and the role of botanic gardens in helping governments to fulfill their commitments to implement it should be integrated throughout the Action Plan. A few pages in the plan should be dedicated to setting out the need for a collective response by botanic gardens to the Convention's requirements on access and benefit-sharing. These pages should outline the kind of elements that botanic gardens could develop jointly, such as institutional policies on access and benefit-sharing, guidelines or codes of conduct for the management of collections and associated information.
  • Joint policies on access and benefit-sharing: 90% of those completing the questionnaire said that they wished to join some form of `Club', or mechanism allowing botanic gardens to work together to develop harmonized policies on access and benefit-sharing. Participants in the workshop felt this mechanism should work within existing associations of botanic gardens such as BGCI and IABG. A regionally representative, international working group should prepare basic documents to present to the wider botanic gardens community at the 5th International Botanic Gardens Conservation Congress to be held in Kirstenbosch in September 1998. Botanic gardens should consider devising a voluntary scheme of `CBD-registration' enabling gardens to continue activities such as seed exchange with the confidence of countries of origin. Participants also recommended sending representatives of the botanic gardens community to international negotiations and meetings.

 

Workshop: Education in European botanic gardens
Leader: Julia Willison (BGCI, U.K.)

The aim of the workshop was to provide an opportunity for educators and staff, working in European botanic gardens, to meet and discuss future priorities for collaboration and action in education.

The workshop began with a presentation of the preliminary results of a European botanic garden education survey carried out by BGCI and the need to produce a European Botanic Garden Action Plan. The results of the survey will be published shortly. Three headings were proposed for the education chapter of the Action Plan and delegates were divided into three groups to discuss priorities for collaboration and action under each heading. A chair and rapporteur were appointed for each group.

Following the workshop two sub groups met to discuss the proposed action plan further. Their thoughts and recommendations were circulated for comment and are noted below:

  • All botanic gardens should employ at least one full-time education officer
  • Botanic gardens need to ensure that education is written into the job description of all staff
  • Botanic gardens should ensure that they have a child-friendly policy
  • Educational professionals should be encouraged to influence the development of education policy within botanic gardens
  • Botanic gardens should aim to influence people's way of thinking about their connections to and dependence on plants and biodiversity from an early age
  • Botanic gardens should act as knowledge centres for understanding the plant world and correcting misconceptions about plants
  • Botanic gardens should avoid duplication of educational activities that can be carried out in schools
  • Botanic gardens need to specify the types of educational activities that can only be carried out in botanic gardens
  • Botanic gardens need to develop new ways of attracting people into the garden
  • Botanic gardens need to link their education programmes with other major international documents - the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21 - and already published guidelines for botanic gardens, eg. Environmental Education in Botanic Gardens: Guidelines for developing individual strategies and the Botanic Gardens CITES Manual.
  • Botanic gardens throughout Europe need to establish research programmes in education to gather base-line information about the effectiveness of education programmes in botanic gardens
  • Botanic gardens should act as resource centres to support traditional activities in decline in university curicula - eg. whole plant studies
  • Botanic gardens should act as centres for growing and maintaining plants for research and provide nursery and experimental facilities. Gardens need to identify the need for such facilities
  • Botanic gardens need to identify and market educational materials and activities relevant to local circumstances
  • Botanic gardens should provide opportunities for continuing professional development depending on their local circumstances
  • The professional status of education staff in European botanic gardens needs to be raised through training courses, publications and the production of a set of guidelines on the role of botanic garden educators
  • There is a need for a working group to be established to develop an integrated European education strategy for botanic gardens
  • Practical training courses in education could be set up for European botanic garden staff
  • There is a need for an interchange and placement system for European botanic garden education staff
  • Exchange of educational expertise, information and resources needs to be increased through publications, network group reports and electronic exchange.
  • European botanic gardens could collaborate on the production of joint educational materials and resources. For example, the World Exposition in 2000 in Hannover, Germany, could provide a venue for botanic gardens to mount a joint exhibition on the role and work of European botanic gardens.
  • Botanic gardens could work with organisations, such as museums, zoos and national parks, to explore educational links and develop materials
  • Universities and centres of higher education should view botanic gardens as resources for teaching a range of disciplines - botany, taxonomy, horticulture, zoology, geography and social sciences

The following first steps were proposed for developing a European botanic garden education network:

  • Draw up a proposal outlining how a European education network could function
  • Send the proposal to each European education network for discussion
  • Appoint a national representative from each national/regional education network to be elected to attend at least one meeting per year
  • Seek funding for a regional network meeting through appropriate EU funding directives

 

Workshop: Cooperation of EU botanic gardens with those of central and eastern Europe
Leader: Igor Smirnov (BGCI, Moscow)

Cooperation between EU botanic gardens with those in central and eastern Europe has a great deal of potential. At present it consists of mutual scientific research, organization of botanical field trips for plant collection, exchange of plant material, organization of training of scientists and other staff from countries of Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe in botanic gardens and EU institutions, participation in scientific conferences, seed exchange by means of seed lists. The most frequent areas for cooperation are conservation and plant taxonomy, followed by plant physiology and biotechnology.

Some case studies of cooperation were presented at the workshop. Botanic gardens actively participating in mutual research with countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) are the U.K., Germany, Finland, France and Sweden.

During the workshop it was mentioned that even in 1991-1996 there was a general decline in cooperation between Europe and the countries of FSU, nevertheless we expect further growth of cooperation. At present, the Moscow Main Botanical Gardens is working with the Institute of Botany and Botanic Garden of the University of Vienna, Austria (rare and endangered species) and the University of Clermont Ferrand, France (plant physiology). The Botanic Garden and Botanical Institute in St Peterburg is working with several botanical institutions in EU counties: with the Center of Nature Protection and Ecology in Germany, since 1973, developing a vegetation map of Europe; with the Botanic Garden of Hamburg, Germany, organising an exchange programme of scientists and horticulturists; with Finnish scientists, since 1992, on the influence of atmospheric pollution on forest ecosystems. The Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences actively cooperates with botanical institutions and scientists in the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and other countries.

Botanic Gardens also cooperate with commercial plant breeders. For instance, the Moscow Main Botanical Gardens has worked with Lefeber CO, in Holland, and Kordes-Rosen, in Germany, which has resulted in new breeds of tulip, daffodil, hyacinth, Amaryllis, and different varieties of roses.

Cooperation between botanic gardens in EU countries and eastern and central Europe became more active after the BGCI office in Moscow opened which has resulted in 40 new FSU members joining BGCI. BGCI provides members with regular information about activities in botanic gardens throughout the world, information about environmental education programs in botanic gardens, information on their databases and important collections in botanic gardens and other information. BGCI has organized several workshops for botanic gardens of FSU countries which assist in establishing new links and developing cooperation between countries of EU and those in eastern and central Europe.

 

Workshop: Network of European conservation collections
Leader: Peter Wyse Jackson (BGCI) and Mike Maunder (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.)

The workshop began with a presentation by Mike Maunder of the results of a review of Bern Convention species in European botanic gardens. This indicated that although botanic gardens possess evident horticultural capacity to cultivate threatened species, the level of infraspecific sampling and conservation management are low. It was pointed out that currently botanic gardens maintain six European plant species which are now Extinct in the Wild (sensu IUCN).

This was followed by a presentation by Peter Wyse Jackson of a set of draft proposals outlining the possible development of European conservation collections. A review paper outlining how such a new initiative might operate was circulated for comment. This paper had been considered previously by meetings of the European Botanic Gardens Consortium and its review and endorsement by the "eurogard97" meeting was sought before the initiative would go ahead.

The proposals made focussed on the following principles:

  • develop a European working group to promote the scientifically based and coordinated conservation management of threatened European species
  • establish a standard set of protocols and guidelines for conservation activity based on the best available standards of genetic and demographic management
  • establish an integrated approach based on full collaboration with national and international agencies, particularly with national governments and protected area authorities
  • promote conservation programs coordinated by national botanic garden networks
  • promote BGs as a processing facility for threatened species directly supporting wild populations and habitats
  • promote endangered species management not collections of endangered plants

Subsequent group discussions outlined the following points:

  • imperative to work to national legal structures and to follow national priorities as specified by Biodiversity Action Plans
  • utilise IUCN/SSC and associated groups to assist in priority establishment
  • liaise with IPGRI and CPC to build on established expertise
  • review possibilities of linking with EU Biotechnology Programme (DG 12)
  • establish a mechanism for establishing electronic directory of plant conservation expertise
  • establish a broad approach to EU funding e.g. biotechnology, tourism, crop relatives, mobility/training etc.
  • build capacity and involve BGs of all types and sizes to ensure the success of the program
  • develop educational/promotional packages associated with accredited European conservation collections to utilise existing BG collections
  • include European Dependent Territories after the initial development stage of the project but the initiative would include Atlantic Islands and non-EU European countries from the beginning
  • build capacity by broad based programs (including horticulture) to increase professional capacity
  • utilise northern European facilities (stabilised postÄglacial weed floras) to support activities in endemic-rich areas

Conclusions: The above recommendations will be reviewed again by the IABG/BGCI European Consortium. It is proposed that a broad-based working group (incorporating skills in horticulture, population genetics, reintroduction etc.) be established and that a set of working case studies be adopted. The development of the initiative was widely welcomed by the participants in the workshop.

 

Workshop: CITES issues for European botanic gardens
Leader: Noel McGough (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.), Jan de Koning (University of Leiden Botanic Gardens, The Netherlands) and Michael Kiehn (Vienna Botanic Garden, Austria)

Objectives: The workshop included information on CITES relevant to botanic gardens, financial aspects of the involvement of CITES in botanic gardens and botanic gardens as rescue centres for confiscated plants.

Observations: Botanic gardens play, or at least could play, an important role in the CITES processes. Already representatives of many botanic gardens act as advisers for CITES management and/or scientific authorities or are officially designated as CITES scientific authorities (e.g. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.). Many botanic gardens are places for the disposal of seized or confiscated plants. In most cases financial, personal and/or logistic support of botanic gardens for fulfilling these duties and responsibilities is not guaranteed or regulated. There are only very few programs for artificial propagation of endangered (especially Appendix I) taxa originating from confiscation. Ownership of confiscated plants and their offspring is often not clearly stated.

Results: Botanic gardens are willing to actively participate in the CITES processes. However, botanic gardens need a clearly defined framework of financial, personal and logistic support allowing them to plan their activities regarding CITES issues. Botanic gardens could participate in European network systems of rescue centres for certain plant groups, e.g., orchids or cacti, trying to create the optimal conditions for artificial propagation of endangered taxa which are difficult to cultivate, and enabling CITES management authorities to choose the best possible place for seized plant material. Such rescue centre activities should be paid for by CITES authorities as they are a requirement of CITES regulations. A clear decision tree of what to do with confiscated plant material is needed. It is important to focus the activities of botanic gardens on plant material of known wild origin or on seriously endangered taxa (Appendix I).

A list of recommendations of "eurogard97" including these aspects on CITES was presented at the 2nd European regional CITES meeting on flora, April 14 to 16, in Sofia, Bulgaria. The statements regarding rescue centres were taken into account in recommendation 7 of this meeting, recommending that CITES Management Authorities, in consultation with their Scientific Authorities, designate rescue centres, so that the 3rd meeting of the European region may consider proposing an international

Workshop: Management of historical gardens
Leader: Elsa Cappelletti (Padua Botanic Garden, Italy)

The people attending this workshop, held to examine and discuss the complex matter of the management of historical gardens, were mostly botanists but also architects, and representatives of gardens of very different ages, from the oldest ones - Padua and Pisa - about 450 years old, to the most recent one dating back 70 years.

In spite of the variety of situations existing in the different historical gardens, substantially similar management problems emerged from the discussion.

The oldest botanic gardens were founded as physic gardens for cultivation of native and exotic medicinal plants. However, in the course of the centuries, the links with medicine weakened following the evolution of botany from a discipline applied to medicine to an autonomous science. Accordingly, the living collections of the gardens changed as well to meet changing research and teaching needs.

Therefore, one most realize that the present state of the historical botanic gardens is a result of the evolution of their scientific and educational roles over the centuries.

Regarding the oldest historical gardens, the main management problems arise from their very small size, the garden areas not exceeding, as a rule, two or three hectares. Moreover, very often structural architectural features of historical importance, such as the size and arrangement of the plant beds, sets considerable limits both on the number and type of the plants grown in the garden.

The workshop showed general agreement about the need for conservation of the historical heritage. For instance, all the important architectural features and in particular the original ground - plan (if still in existence). Nevertheless, gardens must evolve to adapt their activities to changing circumstances.

As regards the living collections, the exact situation existing hundreds of years ago can be reproduced, at least in a small part of the garden. Such reconstructions can be carried out only in some circumstances, namely when lists of the plants cultivated in the past are available and when their botanical identification is possible (the meaning of the pre-Linnean plant names is sometimes very hard to understand). Moreover, historical reconstructions can be carried out only if the remaining garden area is large enough for the present research and education programs.

Satellite gardens available in close proximity to the historical ones are required in order to allow conservation of the historical heritage without precluding the garden's development.

The historical gardens must be regarded first of all as garden monuments. Obviously, every attempt should be undertaken to preserve their lay out and architectural form. Historical research to get additional information on all the aspects of the garden's evolution should be promoted and encouraged. The role played by the historical gardens and the main steps of their evolution should be presented and explained to visitors in information centres or, preferably, in permanent exhibitions close to the gardens themselves.

The botanists attending the workshop were convinced of the fact that the historical botanic gardens, in spite of their small size and peculiar architectural features which very often act as limiting factors, can and must still play a scientific role today. This implies that they must be dynamic and conservative at the same time, since they have to adapt changing research programs to existing structures, avoiding too radical changes and in strict respect of the garden's historical background.

Owing to their small size, the historical botanic gardens will tend inevitably to become specialist gardens in the future. Living collections must be selected on the basis of well considered accession policies and institutional planning and management, according to both botanical garden traditions and present educational requirements and research needs, including new emerging priorities, such as biodiversity conservation.

The most frequent management problems of the historical gardens arise from funding and personnel shortage; in particular, the availability of a highly trained and experienced permanent staff is considered a basic requirement. The sometimes difficult relations between gardens and departments within the University act as a further limiting factor, heavily conditioning normal working and development of the historical botanic gardens.