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The Management of Living Collections in Beijing Botanical Garden (North)

Volume 3 Number 2 - July 2006

Zhao Shiwei and Zhang Zuoshuang

Beijing Botanical Garden was founded in 1956. The State Council authorized the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Beijing Municipality to set up a new botanic garden of state level in a west suburb of Beijing. Subsequently, it was divided into two gardens; the north garden was supported by the Beijing Municipality, while the south garden was annexed to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The mission statement of Beijing Botanical Garden (North) is to:

“promote the knowledge of plants to the public, conduct research, and create a beautiful environment for recreation through the collection and conservation of plant diversity and the display of plants in attractive settings”.

1.    Objectives of Beijing Botanical Garden

The Objectives of Beijing Botanical Gardens are:

1.    Conservation: to collect a diverse and well-documented collection of living plants to be displayed in horticulturally attractive settings.
2.    Education: to promote public awareness and knowledge of plants and the importance of their conservation.
3.    Research: to pursue botanical and horticultural research programmes.
4.    Recreation and tourism: to develop the landscape to a high standard to provide a place of recreation for local residents and a tourist attraction.

2. Management Objectives

2.1 Conservation
  • support ex situ conservation of plant diversity by collection, propagation and maintenance of taxa which are rare, threatened or endangered in the wild in accordance with recognized and national strategies.
  • support in situ conservation of plant diversity through research and education programmes undertaken in the garden
  • conserve cold hardy ornamental collections
  • actively participate in the preparation of national strategies for biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of plants
  • establish a national collection of plants through cooperation with other botanic gardens


2.2 Research
  • maintain accurate records of the plant collections for scientific reference
  • trial species which are considered worthy of introduction into cultivation in Beijing
  • breed new varieties of ornamental plants
  • support scientific research in the garden as well as in other institutions by growing and displaying plants of scientific interest in the garden
  • participate in cooperative research projects with universities or institutes


2.3 Education
  • develop the gardens as an educational resource, ensuring information is accessible for all visitors and non-visitors (via internet and other multimedia) and to appeal to a broad range of interests and abilities
  • develop the living plant collections as the primary educational resource and support their interpretation through a variety of means including plant labelling, a range of displays and visitor programmes
  • ensure the collections support horticultural interests and environmental and other educational messages which are of relevance to the community
  • enhance the diversity of collections to improve their educational value
  • develop high quality educational facilities which will enhance access to information and services and provide suitable settings for education programmes
2.4 Recreation and tourism
  • maintain, manage and develop the landscape to a high standard as the primary means of supporting recreation, thereby enhancing the gardens’ value as a community and tourism resource
  • manage and maintain the cultural heritage properly, thus attracting visitors
  • encourage use by people of all ages including people from the city and visitors from other cities and countries
  • ensure all features and facilities supporting recreation activities in the garden are integrated with the character of the landscape
  • make use of the plants and launch activities to attract visitors

3 The Present Situation of Living collections

3.1 Plant collections
The collection is composed of an outdoor and indoor collection. The outdoor collection includes the arboretum and the thematic gardens. The arboretum is divided into 4 parts and has been laid out systematically. The thematic collections are rose, paeony, ornamental peach, lilac, bamboo, Mei-flower (Prunus mume) and perennials.

The impressive conservatory attracts a great many visitors with a well-designed landscape and diverse plant species. The plants displayed include those from the tropical rainforest and desert, orchids, bromeliads, carnivorous plants, palms and many other plants. There are about 6,000 taxa.

3.2 Criteria for new plants collections
  • conservation value – potential to support or promote conservation programmes
  • educational value – relevance of themes to support or promote the garden’s mission and objectives
  • horticultural value – potential to attract visitors or potential to be planted in the city
  • economic value
  • cultural value
The following plants meet the collections criteria:
  • wild taxa
1.    species of educational value – plants with special economic, or cultural values
2.    species of conservation value including:
  • rare and threatened species
  • genera in which China has a good number of species and which could become a National Collection
  • representative species of the local flora
  • cultivated taxa
  • classic cultivars of Chinese origin
  • woody plants of ornamental value and potential for urban planting
3.3 Priorities for collections
Priorities should be given to the following categories of plants for inclusion in ex situ conservation
  • taxa that are in immediate danger of extinction
  • taxa that are of local economic importance
  • taxa representing local ecotypes
  • local flagship species or subspecies that will stimulate conservation awareness
  • taxa that are of special scientific interest, such as narrow endemics or geographical relics
3.4 Sources of the plant materials
Plant material can be acquired from the following sources:
  • direct collection from the wild
  • exchange with other gardens
  • purchase from nurseries
  • donations from other sources

About the Authors

Zhao Shiwei and Zhang Zuoshuang are at the Beijing Botanical Garden (North), part of the Parks and Landscape Bureau of Beijing