BGCI – Celebrating 20 Years of Securing Plant Diversity
Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) was established in 1987 as a small secretariat under the auspices of the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
In the following 20 years, BGCI grew to become the leading international organisation working to save the world’s imperilled flora.
In 2007 we celebrated some of BGCI's greatest achievements:
Building the World’s Largest Plant Conservation Network
BGCI’s membership and larger network has grown consistently over the years, reaching across every continent. The organisation now unites over 800 members and other partners from more than 100 countries worldwide, all committed to saving the world’s threatened plants. BGCI helps gardens connect with each other and these links can generate huge, positive change for individuals, gardens and local communities.
Developing a Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
Although BGCI was not alone in developing the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, it is widely acknowledged that the drive and leadership provided by BGCI was fundamental in ensuring its ultimate adoption by 187 countries under the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002. By adopting the GSPC, the world’s governments are committed to “halt the current and continuing loss of plant diversity” by 2010.
Conserving Threatened Plants
Through a unique database, and with the help of hundreds of botanic gardens worldwide, BGCI has documented over 150,000 plants in cultivation in botanic gardens. This includes over 12,000 species which are under threat of extinction in the wild. BGCI is presently working on recovery programmes for over 500 threatened plant species.
Providing a Framework for Conservation Action in Botanic Gardens
The International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation, published in 2000, is probably the most important document produced by BGCI in its 20 year history.
In 2008, 472 botanic gardens from 83 countries have officially ‘signed’ the Agenda thus formally confirming their commitment to plant conservation. The International Agenda is recognised as the framework document guiding the actions of botanic gardens in conservation and has been translated into many languages, including Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, Latvian, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian.
Building Capacity for Conservation
One of the main constraints to conserving plant diversity is a lack of the necessary skills and knowledge in many countries. BGCI has therefore carried out training courses and workshops in many countries around the world - with a focus on transferring technologies to where they are required. Over the last five years, nearly 2,000 botanic garden staff have received training in plant conservation techniques. Examples include:
Developing a “New Generation” of Environmental Educationalists
BGCI’s education programme leads the field in environmental education. Through a combination of training courses, workshops, congresses and publications, BGCI has introduced the concept of Education for Sustainability to a generation of botanic garden educators and helped to move forward the environmental education agenda.
Reaching Young Audiences
BGCI recognises that the youth of today are the conservationists of tomorrow. In order to raise awareness amongst young people of the importance of plants, BGCI has developed a strong focus on education. Over the last five years, around 80,000 children have participated in BGCI-supported education programmes and more than 1,000 teachers in Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia have been trained in how to use botanic gardens as outdoor classrooms.
Raising Public Awareness of Plant Conservation Needs and Issues
In recent years, over 2 million people have visited BGCI-supported public exhibitions held by botanic gardens and other partners in countries from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to Vietnam, Lao, Indonesia and China. The common aim of all these exhibitions is to highlight the importance of plants to human-kind and draw attention to the threats they face.
Towards the Future – Taking a Lead on Climate Change
Climate change is a major threat to plant diversity, and rates of extinction are likely to increase as global temperatures rise. In 2006, BGCI was one of the convenors of a meeting of experts who, through the “Gran Canaria Declaration on Climate Change and Plant Conservation” called on governments to take urgent action to increase protection for the world’s plants.