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Developing an Action Plan for Fushan Botanic Garden: A Dream for People who Appreciate Biodiversity

Volume 3 Number 2 - July 2006

The Fushan Botanic Garden (FBG) belongs to the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute (TFRI) and occupies1097 ha in the mountains of north-east Taiwan. It was established in 1990 and opened to the public in 1992. 

The garden has natural forest with 30 ha for exhibiting the plant collection. It is a site of long-term ecological research (LTER) in Taiwan with about 20 research projects each year undertaken by scientists of various institutes and includes the first large-scale subtropical forest plot in the world.  FBG has a section to grow threatened or endangered species which is also used for education.  The garden has an education centre and produces interpretation material. 

The Mission of FBG is to:

1.    ensure the conservation and protection of biodiversity in FBG, both in situ and ex situ and to provide material for science, environmental monitoring and education and the maintenance of genetic resources.
2.    enhance the knowledge of useful plants, collect, grow and display these plants to conserve genetic resources and make people aware of the importance of biological diversity and the sustainable use of plants through education programmes.
3.    coordinate and integrate the above issues through research, education, and practical actions.
This article briefly describes the action plan for FBG which was developed using a SWOT analysis. 

Objectives and Actions

1. Conservation objectives

1.1.    in situ
Conserve an ecosystem which provides an example of the natural ecosystem, flora and fauna of north-east Taiwan.
To achieve this objective, FBG should:
1.1.1.    enhance communication between the local government and aboriginal people to raise their awareness of the importance of biodiversity. The aboriginal people could be involved in conservation e.g. patrolling, collecting and growing plants for FBG, which would improve their economic well-being and lessen the hunting pressure.
1.1.2.    promote, invite, and collaborate with other institutes to undertake research into the distribution, reproductive biology and management of wildlife to provide feasible strategies to ensure the sustainable use of these natural resources.
1.1.3.    monitor wild populations of threatened plants and integrate ex situ conservation to ensure the sustainable use of plants.
1.1.4.    ensure staff understand the relevant legislation.

 

1.2. ex situ
Ensure the selected plants or seeds/spores are conserved ex situ and enable them to be sustainably used.

To achieve this objective, FBG should:

1.2.1.    prioritize the target plants.  This should include a National Plant Collection of Taiwan.  FBG could collaborate with other institutions to grow economically important plants to take the pressure off wild plants.
1.2.2.    identify plant collections for display and education.  The present collections of trees and shrubs could be augmented with thematic collections such as epiphytes which are adapted in the humid habitat and herbs for education as well as commercial use.
1.2.3.    implement ethnobotanical research and collections. This research will work closely with the aboriginal people.
1.2.4.    maintain a seed bank at the headquarter of TFRI.
1.2.5.    collect and identify seedlings. Develop a herbarium of seedlings at different developmental stages, grown at FBG, to aid identification of materials collected in the field.  The lack of knowledge of seedling morphology is one of the main problems of research into forest dynamics.
1.2.6.    manage the living plant collection.

 

2. Education objectives:
2.1. To enhance visitors’ awareness of the importance of biological diversity and the sustainable use of plant resources

To achieve this objective, FBG should:

2.1.1.    enhance staff awareness of the spirit of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.
2.1.2.    increase the number of volunteers and organize them properly.
2.1.3.    train travel agency guides.  About half of FBG’s visitors are organized by travel agencies.  FBG should give training courses and issue badges for qualified guides.
2.1.4.    publish a local Flora as soon as possible.
2.1.5.    display living plant collections which illustrate plant diversity.
2.1.6.    use the natural ecosystem for interpretation.  In particular, the function of the natural forest and water resources.
2.1.7.    improve the education programmes of the education centre. For example, a programme on ‘evening ecology’ to help people understand the cycle of a day in nature and interpret research data for the public.
2.1.8.    develop relevant interpretation systems for different groups of visitors.
2.2. Promote FBG as a resource for academic education and training

To achieve this objective, FBG should:
2.2.1.    provide the garden’s resources to universities. In particular materials for the taxonomy and ethnobotany, and facilities for horticultural teaching and research. FBG also has accommodation and a restaurant.
2.2.2.    collaborate with universities and other research institutes and encourage university students to use the resources for research. 
2.2.3.    organize symposia, workshops and/or training courses on relevant topics.
2.2.4.    offer the facilities to government institutes and NGOs for meetings on related subjects. This will favour good policies for environmental development.


2.3. Develop FBG as a centre for environmental education for elementary schools

To achieve this objective, FBG should:

2.3.1.    train FBG’s staff to understand a child-friendly programme.
2.3.2.    invite school teachers or experts to participate in the programme development.
2.3.3.    encourage volunteers to be involved in this programme. Most of the volunteers of FBG are teachers of elementary schools and could assist in the programme design.
2.3.4.    enhance teachers’ awareness and skill in environmental education through courses at FBG.

Further Recommendations

Other recommendations which will support the action plan and thus help implement the objectives on conservation and education are to:

1.    modify the access facilities for visitors such as the young and old and those with special needs.
2.    implement more and wider research to provide theoretical, empirical, and practical actions.
3.    establish a network of all botanic gardens in. Although the gardens are located in different regions, all are easy to reach. A network will avoid overlap in effort and maximize the use of resources; every botanic garden should develop their unique programmes and share the experience and common tools used such as the record system. The network can extend to other organizations, such as museums, national parks, tourist authorities, the media, and so on, to use the limited resources to the maximum.
4.    integrate management of different objectives to ensure that work is undertaken in a way which meets the objectives in the defined time and within the budget.
5.    circulate the draft plan to all staff and outside FBG in order to get feedback and comment.
6.    evaluate the plan periodically to ensure its feasibility and achievability.

 

About the Author

Wen-Liang Chiou is at the Division of Forest Biology, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute
E-mail: chiou@serv.tfri.gov.tw
Postal address:
53 Nan-Hai Road, Taipei 100, Taiwan
Tel: +886-2-23039978
Fax: +886-2-23076220
Internet: http://www.tfri.gov.tw/