Botanic Gardens Conservation International
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Roots Education Review

Roots, the education review for botanic gardens, has been produced biannually since 1990. It has covered topics such as teacher training, interpretation, research and education for sustainability, art, technology and much more. Become a BGCI member to receive the most up to date versions straight into your email in box, hot off the press!

See your work featured in Roots.

The call is now open for the next issue of Roots on Citizen Science. Contribute with:

Deadline for submitting abstracts: 1st June 2019


Contact to find out more.


Roots Archive

You can download your copy of the previous issues of Roots below or download individual articles.


Roots 15:1 - Putting theory into practice

In this issue of Roots, we present botanic gardens and museums that are driving their educational work by grounding it in theory. What we hope to show is that learning theories can be situational; what canbe seen as a dominant or effective approach in one situation may not be in another.

Roots 14:2 - Sowing and nurturing education programmes

In this issue we are considering how to develop education programmes from scratch. We look at how organisations around the world have established or are developing their public engagement to support others to do the same.

Roots 14:1 - Engaging Youth

This issue of Roots looks some of the successful ways that botanic gardens and other organisations are engaging with teenagers as well as the ways in which dedicated young people can contribute, to help address some of the assumptions and stereotypes held about this, often hard-to-reach, audience. 


Roots 13:2 - Celebrating our Volunteers

Many botanic gardens are only kept afloat thanks to their committed volunteers. This is why, in this issue of Roots we want to celebrate the vital work of these dedicated individuals.

Roots 13:1 - Sharing Science

In this issue of Roots we have chosen a selection to give a snapshot of the most unusual, creative and far flung activities being carried out by botanic gardens in the name of science communication.

Roots 12:2 - Room to Grow: Learning Spaces in Botanic Gardens

Maximising the learning of visitors to a garden is a challenge indeed. Yet it is one that the botanic garden education community is in no doubt fit to face. In this jam-packed issue of Roots we feature inspirational leaning spaces, approaches to design and cautionary tales from around the world.


Roots 12:1 - Marketing to bring your garden to the masses

This issue of Roots provides case studies from three continents highlight different aspects of the value of marketing in botanic gardens. Marketing has been adopted by the museum sector (including botanic gardens) as it offers theory, tools, and skills that enable them to increase audiences, build relationships with stakeholders, and increase revenue streams. Find out more about how to engage more visitors and ensure the benefits of botanic gardens are reached by a wider cross section of the public.


Roots 11:2 - Beyond the beauty of art in botanic gardens

Art in botanic gardens can take many different forms, from exhibitions and art installations created by professional artists, to offering adult education programmes in botanical art and running art festivals for the wider public. In this issue of Roots  various professionals linked to botanic gardens give their perspective on how art can be used for public engagement. Contributions come from artists, educators and the directors of gardens.

Roots 11:1 - Transforming audience experience: botanic gardens going digital

Living  in the digital age, modern technology is commonplace in the day-to-day activities of most people’s lives. Some botanic gardens have already taken the lead in introducing innovative technologies to enhance the way they communicate with the public. Technology offers new ways to explore by providing real-time information about flowering seasons or exhibitions and encouraging community interaction and social learning. This issue of Roots looks at how Apps, social media and virtual learning environments can benefit the educational programmes offered by botanic gardens as well as the challenges faced when using new technologies.


Roots 10:2 - Putting the Audience First: staying relevant in the race to the future

For many gardens, education has become a core activity and BGCI has made a clear argument/call for gardens to engage with greater numbers and more diverse groups of people in their educational offering. Audience development is at the heart of this process. In this volume of Roots we look across the spectrum of audience development, from theory to on-the-ground practice.


Roots 10:1 - Professional Development for Educators

This edition of Roots explores career development for garden educators, and reviews the beneficial impacts on international capacity-building in botanic gardens. The issue provides readers with insight into innovative training programmes, advice for creating international partnerships between gardens, and case studies of collaborative approaches. 

Roots 9:2 - Inquiry-Based Science Education

There’s nothing new about inquiry-based learning; its theoretical ancestry can be traced, for example, to the work on open learning by Dewey and Wagenschein from the first half of the last century. And were we to scroll back a couple of millennia, we’d probably find that the idea of encouraging students towards questioning self-knowledge would earn a nod of recognition from Socrates himself! In this edition of Roots we have invited authors from Europe and Asia to guide us across the current Inquiry-Based Science Education landscape.

Roots 9:1 Cover

Roots 9:1 - Children's Gardens

It’s a challenge facing botanic gardens everywhere: how can they broaden their visitor demographics and develop more meaningful relationships with their host communities? One approach, adopted by gardens worldwide, has been to shift the emphasis towards children and families – and in this latest issue of Roots we explore how some of them are addressing these existential questions of demographic and community relevance.

Roots 8:2 - Science and Culture

Located at the crossroads of science and culture, botanic gardens occupy a key educational and societal role. With human activity leading to environmental degradation and an unsustainable future, varied and imaginative strategies are needed for gardens to challenge these destructive behaviours and offer attractive, alternative models of sustainable living. Roots 8:2 demonstrates that there is no shortage of ideas, with examples from across the globe.

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Roots 8:1 - Growing the Social role of Botanic Gardens

This issue follows a recent study commissioned by BGCI on Redefining the role of botanic gardens: towards a new social purpose. Roots 8:1 combines academic perspectives and cases from Ghana, Sweden, UK, Israel, and USA that demonstrate how botanic gardens can develop their social role. Examples include innovative social inclusion projects which may vary from mentoring students from disadvantaged backgrounds in natural science careers (Chicago Botanic Garden) to building bridges over divided Arab and Jewish communities (Jerusalem Botanical Gardens).

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Roots 7:2 -  Education and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation


This issue of Roots follows hard on the heels of BGCI’s 4th Global Botanic Gardens Congress ‘Addressing Global Change: a New Agenda for Botanic Gardens’, hosted so generously in Dublin in 2010 by the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland and supported by the Irish Government. Botanic gardens must be encouraged to take a lead on communicating and educating the public on all targets of the GSPC.

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Roots 7:1 - Education and

Today, with our growing awareness of the impact humankind is having on the environment; there is also recognition that horticulture has a significant role to play in implementing international strategies such as the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation as well as the Millennium Development Goals. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity – affording botanic gardens an unmissable opportunity to highlight the intimate relationship between biodiversity and horticulture and underline the essential role that horticulture has to play in education. In this issue of Roots we showcase a number of innovative education programmes that demonstrate the potential and significance of botanic gardens in this area.

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Roots 6:2 - International Year
of Biodiversity

Over the last 3 centuries important ecosystems such as the rainforests have shrunk half of their size, and although they only cover less than 6% of the planet’s surface, they contain the majority of the world’s plant and animal species, many yet undiscovered. Despite these shocking figures, many people are still not aware of the loss of biodiversity and its consequences.  Check out this issue for more information of how different countries invest in developing an understanding of biodiversity around the world and herein.

 Roots 6.1 front cover

Roots 6:1 - Interpretation
for Sustainability

A recurring question for botanic gardens everywhere is ‘what do we want to interpret and communicate?’ Interpretation can be used to raise awareness at many different levels and increasingly we are seeing national and international collaboration between botanic gardens aimed at focusing attention on the need for plant conservation. Interpretation is a vast subject and this issue of Roots barely scratches the surface of what there is to know.

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Roots 5:2 - From there to eternity? The lesson's of Darwin's legacy

When, in November 1859, Charles Darwin published On The Origin of Species, he triggered an intellectual and conceptual earthquake of such magnitude that its aftershocks remain with us a century and a half later.  With 2009 marking the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and 150th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin of Species, this issue of Roots calls on botanic gardens to celebrate the legacy and thinking of this extraordinary man.

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Roots 5:1 - Climate Change: Can we handle it?

In this climate change issue of Roots, we examine how botanic gardens are confronting perhaps the greatest challenge ever faced by humankind. We show that many botanic gardens are taking the lead in their communities to engage the public in debate and empower them to take action.

Roots: The water issue

Roots 4:2 - Making Waves for Water Conservation

When we started to plan this water-themed issue of Roots, we were blissfully unaware that the summer of 2007 would emerge as the wettest since UK records began. Yet what happened here is nothing compared with what was going on elsewhere in the world. As the rains came down and rivers burst their banks throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia, millions of people were left homeless and without safe drinking water. Simultaneously, elsewhere in the world, millions of others faced serious drought conditions. The relationship between plants and water is intimate and complex; this issue of Roots explores this theme.

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Roots 4:1 - Linneaus: Still relevant 300 years on?

300 years ago Linnaeus, regarded as the father of taxonomy and creator of the classification system, had little difficulty in engaging young people’s interest in taxonomy. Students flocked from far and wide to study with him and contemporary accounts suggest that his natural history excursions were notorious events! Now however, many express concern over the apparently inexorable decline in the popularity of taxonomy. This issue of Roots explores the methods and solutions used by educators to bring taxonomy and classification to life.

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Roots 3:2 - Environmental Education and play

This issue of Roots celebrates 'play' in the environment.  With our world becoming more urbanised the need for access to green space has never been greater.  Botanic gardens are wonderful venues for play and many gardens are increasingly aware of the need to offer opportunities for children to explore their surroundings freely. 

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Roots 3:1 – Access for all: Problems and Solutions

Most of us would subscribe to the view that botanic gardens ought to be accessible, and by that we generally mean open to the public. But such a simple and unchallengeable statement raises more questions than it seems to answer. For example, what exactly do we mean by access? Who gains access, to what and how? These are some of the issues raised in this edition of Roots.

The resources from this issue compliment the access theme, and can also be downloaded here.


 Download earlier editions