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BGCI's highlights for 2013

11 December 2013

5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress

The 3-yearly global botanic gardens congresses are of great importance to BGCI, providing a unique opportunity for us to bring the botanic garden community from far and wide together to share ideas and discuss common issues. The 5th Global Congress, held in Dunedin, New Zealand in October was a huge success, and with nearly 350 participants from 43 countries, was a genuinely global event.  We are much indebted to our colleagues at the Dunedin Botanic Garden and the Dunedin City Council for their hard work and excellent organisation.  For those who were unable to attend, and those who would like to re-live the moment, films of all the plenary talks can be watched on YouTube.  We would also like to take this opportunity to remind any of you who made a presentation at the Congress to submit the full text of your talk to BGCI by 31 January.

More information about the Congress and links to the videos is available here

The Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens

We have continued to develop the Alliance during 2013, with Sydney and Chicago Botanic Gardens becoming the latest members. Keen interest to join has been expressed by a number of other gardens, so we have high hopes for a significant expansion of this initiative in 2014.  During the year we have been working with award winning photographer Barney Wilczak to document ecological restoration activities around the world.  A number of his stunning images are featured on the new website for the Alliance, which was launched in October.  The website includes an interactive map, providing information about the projects that are already being implemented by members of the Alliance. Visit the ERABG website here.

Communities in Nature

With the generous support of the Calouste Gulbenkhian Foundation, BGCI is continuing to help botanic gardens develop projects with their local communities on common issues of social and environmental importance.  While the focus this year has been mainly in the UK, a workshop for European gardens was held in Prague in May, and this project will be further expanded across Europe in 2014.  We have produced a range of resources on the social role of botanic gardens, including an animated film, a ‘how-to’ manual and an interactive map providing links to relevant projects in botanic gardens around the world. Find out more about this inspiring work here.

Conservation and restoration of threatened species

BGCI is supporting a number of on-the-ground projects that focus on the conservation and restoration of threatened species. Frequently these utilise the information we collect as part of our commitment to Red Listing the world’s trees and supporting the Global Trees Campaign - a joint programme with Fauna & Flora International: 

In Africa, with the support of the Ashden Trust, we have initiated pilot projects in Uganda and Kenya that promote and facilitate the use of indigenous tree species in forest restoration projects.  The project will contribute towards the aims of the Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens, while also enhancing the role of African botanic gardens in forest restoration and promoting the use of indigenous species.  We are most grateful to all of you who made a donation to this project thought the Big Give Christmas Challenge. Find out more about this work here.


In China we are making good progress in conserving threatened trees and species of medicinal importance through projects in Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan and Xinjiang provinces.  The projects encompass both species and habitat-based actions and all have a strong focus on community engagement.  Read about our work in China here

In partnership with the Botanic Garden of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, we have published our global action plan for the conservation of Zelkova species. In 2014, we will continue to build on the interesting survey and research results to implement integrated in and ex situ conservation action for this genus. Read more about this here,


Our BGCI US office has been spearheading an initiative to develop conservation strategies for ‘exceptional species’, or species that cannot be conserved by conventional seed banking methods.  A workshop on this topic was held during the 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress and work will continue in 2014.  Research on the conservation of oaks (which are exceptional species) is being carried in partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden's Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife. Find out more here.

 

International Plant Sentinel Network

BGCI is working with the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) in the UK on a three year project to establish an International Plant Sentinel Network. The project, which also includes a number of European partners, was launched at the 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress in October. The aim is to build pest and disease diagnostic capacity in botanic gardens while also using their collections to monitor and predict new pest and disease outbreaks.  The project will involve extensive collaboration amongst partners in Europe as well as forging links with other organizations involved in plant sentinel networks around the world. BGCI's PlantSearch and GardenSearch databases will provide valuable tools to support the development of the network.  Find out more here.

 

Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

Within the framework of an agreement with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), BGCI is continuing to promote the implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC).  In 2013, we organised two capacity building workshops for Southeast Asia.  Kindly hosted by Singapore and Auckland Botanic Gardens, these workshops focused on examining the links between the GSPC and the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (Singapore) and botanic garden management for conservation (Auckland).  In 2014, the GSPC will be subject to a mid-term review and BGCI will be gathering data and information on progress made to date against the 2020 targets.  Please contact us if you would like to provide information or relevant case studies for this review.

 

Looking ahead

BGCI has developed an ambitious five year plan with three main programmes:

 

  • Sustaining wild places and plants
  • Connecting people with nature
  • Finding natural solutions for sustainable livelihoods and well-being


We are developing implementation strategies for the new activities within this plan and look forward to sharing regular updates with you.


The new Chair of the BGCI Board, Professor Stephen Blackmore, will take up this new role in January 2014 and we greatly value his leadership. All at BGCI are also most grateful to Baroness Joan Walmsley Chair of the BGCI Board from 2005 – 2013.


In 2014 progress of the GSPC will be reviewed globally and we will use this opportunity to showcase the inspiring work of botanic gardens worldwide.

We look forward to keeping in touch and thank you for your support and friendship to BGCI.

 

 

 

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