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The role of botanic gardens in the twenty-first century


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Botanic gardens and their functions and role in society have evolved over time. Originally established for study of medicinal plants in the mid-16th century, they morphed into active sites for introduction, cultivation and dissemination of economically important crops during European expansion of colonies in Asia, America and Africa during the 17th to 19th centuries. During the second half of the 20th century, importance was placed on the need for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. In the 21st century, botanic gardens are challenged to address issues that extend beyond the garden walls by placing social and environmental responsibility as key mission drivers.
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The role of botanic gardens in the twenty-first century
S. Krishnan
* and A. Novy
Denver Botanic Gardens, 909 York Street, Denver, Colorado 80206, USA.
United States Botanic Garden, 245 First Street,
SW, Washington, D.C. 20024, USA.
Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, D.C. 20013, USA.
*Correspondence: S. Krishnan. Email:
Received: 4 March 2016
Accepted: 3 May 2016
doi: 10.1079/PAVSNNR201611023
The electronic version of this article is the definitive one. It is located here:
© CAB International 2016 (Online ISSN 1749-8848)
Botanic gardens and their functions and role in society have evolved over time. Originally established
for study of medicinal plants in the mid-sixteenth century, they morphed into active sites for
introduction, cultivation and dissemination of economically important crops during European
expansion of colonies in Asia, America and Africa during the seventeenthnineteenth centuries.
During the second half of the twentieth century, importance was placed on the need for
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. In the twenty-first century, botanic gardens are
challenged to address issues that extend beyond the garden walls by placing social and environmental
responsibility as key mission drivers.
Keywords: Botanic gardens, Living collections, Plant conservation, Human well-being, Herbaria
Review Methodology: Literature search for this review paper was done using the Web of Science database using the search
terms botanic gardensas well as drawing from the authorsconsiderable expertise on the subject and familiarity with the relevant
Cultivating plants for food and pleasure is as ancient
as the civilization of human societies. Throughout the
rise of human societies and culture, evidence of gardens
is recorded in archaeological findings coinciding with
the development of agriculture and horticulture. Notable
among these are the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Shalimar
Gardens in Lahore, the gardens of Cyrus the Great at
Pasargadae in Iran, the monumental gardens of the Aztecs
in Mesoamerica, the Moghul gardens of India and Pakistan,
and the gardens at Versailles near Paris. All these were
examples of pleasure gardens demonstrating power, wealth
and social control [1].
Early botanic gardens, dating back to the middle of the
sixteenth century, were physic gardens established for the
study of medicinal plants at European universities [24].
These early gardens were located in Italy in Pisa (1543),
Padua (1545) and Florence (1550); Germany in Leipzig
(1580); and the Netherlands in Leiden (1590) [3]. Early
gardens were laid out by economic use reflecting the cul-
ture of the time and often in Linnaean order by the 18th
century to show plant taxonomic relationships [2]. During
the age of European expansion and exploration in Asia,
America and Africa in the seventeenthnineteenth century,
botanic gardens became centres of trade where seeds and
fruits were brought from distant lands, actively participating
in the introduction and acclimatization of newly discovered
economically important plants such as tulips in Europe and
cultivation, propagation and dissemination of tropical plan-
tation crops to and between European colonies [34]. Some
examples of crops introduced to colonies include coffee
(Coffea arabica), rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) and quinine
(Cinchona spp.) [3]. It is important to note that many of the
leading European botanical gardens of this era were
yThe opinions expressed in this article are the authorsown. The opinions
of authors who are employees of the United States government do not
necessarily reflect the views of the government
CAB Reviews 2016 11, No. 023
important arms of colonial expansion and power,
effecting technology transfer of useful plants (typically
between tropical parts of the world) for the benefit of
colonial actors [5]. In addition, basic scientific study,
including taxonomy and description of newly discovered
exotic plants, was conducted in botanic gardens and
their associated herbaria such as Royal Botanic Gardens,
Kew in the UK and the Hortus Botanicus Leiden in the
Netherlands. Since the mid-eighteenth century, botanic
gardens have tried to contain all the plants known on
Earth,a vision of the Third Earl of Bute for the Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew [4].
In the second half of the twentieth century, increased
awareness of biodiversity loss and ecosystem function led
to greater focus on conservation and sustainable use of
biodiversity [3]. This spurred establishment of standardized
methods for ex situ conservation in living collections and in
seed banks as well as public education in raising awareness
for sustainability [3]. Many gardens also began involvement
in in situ conservation and ecological restoration in order
to achieve plant biodiversity conservation goals outside of
their walls since it is not possible for gardens to internally
maintain the genetic diversity necessary to sustain ecolo-
gically functional populations of every species of conserva-
tion concern. As gardens evolve in the twenty-first century
and expand programs beyond their own walls, botanical
institutions will face a complex and dynamic landscape.
Societys understanding of biological diversity and its utility
are expanding and widening rapidly as are international legal
regimes governing the use of biodiversity. For example,
gardens must follow international rules and regulations
such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the
Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and
Benefit-Sharing, the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and a
host of other international and national laws and regu-
lations. With the rapid loss of biodiversity and the even
more rapid urbanization of human populations, the need
for institutions dedicated to conservation of plant bio-
diversity and education of urban citizens who live far from
the biodiversity on which their lives depend has never
been stronger. However, significant challenges lie ahead for
botanic gardens as they expand out into a more complex
world where the stakes of conservation success and failure
seem to increase exponentially.
Current Trends in Botanic Gardens
Early on, botanic gardens were defined as places open to
the public and in which plants were labelled[4]. Avery [2]
described botanic gardens as primarily being outdoor
collection of labelled living plants in aesthetic landscapes,
playing passive roles in their communities. Sixty years ago,
Avery [2] concluded that we should be formulating a new
socially-slated botany for the education and enjoyment
of all and that botanists live up to their responsibilities
in contemporary society. Even though many botanic
gardens are historical heritage sites today, they are by no
means relicts of the past [6]. Presently, botanic gardens
have evolved to include expanded programming such as
conservation of plant biodiversity (serving as invaluable
repositories of plant germplasm for long-term preservation
of species), research and education (for both scientific
specialists and the general public) and creation of urban
refuges for wildlife and humans [4, 6]. Maunder [7] noted
that in a hundred years, botanic gardens will not be judged
by the number of relictual species maintained in their col-
lections as botanical living deadbut rather by the number
of viable species and habitats surviving as a result of botanic
gardensefforts and their contribution to economic and
social development.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI),
the worlds largest plant conservation network and
the lead organization for the Global Strategy on Plant
Conservation (GSPC), defines botanic gardens as
institutions holding documented collections of living plants for
the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display
and education and identifies the following criteria that an
organization needs to meet to be considered a botanic
garden [8]:
A reasonable degree of permanence
An underlying scientific basis for the collections
Proper documentation of the collections, including
wild origin
Monitoring of the plants in the collections
Adequate labelling of the plants
Open to the public
Communication of information to other gardens,
institutions and the public
Exchange of seed or other materials with other botanic
gardens, arboreta or research institutions
Undertaking of scientific or technical research on plants
in the collections
Maintenance of research programs in plant taxonomy in
associated herbaria.
Future Trends
Being socially relevant is becoming an important topic in
many cultural organizations. The role of botanic gardens
in expanding their social role, though still in its infancy, is
an emerging topic being discussed widely, though not
fully refined. There is increasing awareness and concern
about the impact of humans on the environment and their
intersection with social and environmental justice. In the
twenty-first century, more and more people are discon-
nected from their natural world. Botanic gardens can play a
major role in reconnecting their visitors and other con-
stituents through a variety of programming and research.
Even though botanic gardens are taking action, much more
can be done. To achieve change, Dodd and Jones [9]
2 CAB Reviews
identified the following key areas that need to be addressed
to become socially relevant:
Broadening audience (audience development)
Enhancing relevance to communities and meeting their
Research which has socio-economic impact locally and
Contributing to public and political debates on the
Modelling sustainable behaviour
Actively changing attitudes and behaviour.
BGCIsCommunities in Nature program, supported by the
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (CGF), found that there is
a lack of integration of the social role in the mission, vision
and strategy of gardens. Additionally, many garden pro-
grams focused on environment issues and not social inclu-
sion. Key challenges identified in growing the social role of
botanic gardens are a lack of commitment from leadership
and lack of sustained funding [10]. BGCIs new manual
Caring for your community[11] is an excellent resource
for botanic garden professionals interested in developing
the social role of their gardens through public engagement.
To become relevant in our current society, botanic
gardens should evolve from the traditional models of
cloistered research and horticulture, which have histori-
cally been perceived as being socially elite, to institutions
that are more inclusive through adoption of socially rele-
vant and diverse programs with broad nexus to society. Key
program categories in botanic gardens such as public
recreation, horticulture, plant research and education and
outreach are discussed below, though they are not listed in
any specific priority. The various subdivisions within these
key categories overlap and complement each other for the
delivery of sustained, relevant programming as depicted
in Figure 1.
Public Recreation
In urban areas, public recreations through aesthetic
horticultural displays have always played on important
role in the institutional mission [3]. Not all gardens have
the resources (monetary or staff) to undertake rigorous
Figure 1. Key program categories with overlapping and complimentary subdivisions offered in a botanic garden.
S. Krishnan and A. Novy 3
scientific research or conservation programs. Many exist
mainly as a place of reprieve and recreation for the general
public. By creating recreational programs relevant to major
botanical issues and a broader community, the opportunity
to expand both audiences and impact exists.
As funding daily operations of botanic gardens becomes
more challenging, primarily due to increasing labour costs,
a paucity of advanced horticultural skills and decreased
public funding, many gardens look for creative ways to earn
new revenue. Annual exhibitions of art and temporary
displays have become common and are very successful in
growing garden memberships and repeat visitation. Art
exhibited among colourful horticultural displays enhance
both the plantings as well as the works of art. While
drawing people in for the art, the botanical displays also
tend to captivate the audience, reaching a diverse audience
that otherwise would not have visited the gardens. Gardens
also make for an attractive venue for seasonal concerts.
However, utilizing botanic gardens as backdrops for
other art forms must be carefully considered. While
increasing visitorship and revenue are key for any gardens
fiscal stability, expanding into non-botanical or non-
environmentally themed programming can have the effect
of diluting the key messages and mission of the botanic
garden. While terms like visitor amenityhave been
adopted to enhance the accessibility and pleasure a
garden may represent, little work has been done to deter-
mine exactly how various form of recreation and amenities
enhance or subtract from gardenscore missions. Without
deeper study in this area, botanic garden leaders will find it
difficult to parse activities designed to address fiscal con-
cerns from programs that meet core mission requirements.
While such study is being pursued, it may be wise for
gardens to consider ways to combine non-botanical ele-
ments, such as sculpture and theater, with botanical con-
cepts to both broaden institutional appeal across wider
audiences and enhance mission based activities. Artistic
exhibits focusing on plant related subjects, such as artist
David RogersBig Bugs, showcase sculpture in the form
of pollinators and other insects that both delight visitors
artistic sensibilities while providing additional avenues
of interpretation for plant related programs. Similarly, the
U.S. Botanic Garden has recently partnered with the John
F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to develop
original, botanically themed educational theater pieces
titled The Cerulean Time Capsule and Flowers Stink, both of
which were designed to be performed in garden spaces
while connecting visitors to the botanical world.
Health and Wellness
Botanic Gardens offer tremendous resources for wellness
programs. At the most basic level, they are wonderful
environments for physical activity. For example, the Royal
Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia is a jogging mecca
with millions of joggers per year. Moving forward gardens
are advancing health and wellness activities that are
specifically designed to relate to the culture and heritage
of their community. The Queens Botanical Garden in
Queens, New York, for example, is surrounded by a large
Asian-American community. As such, the garden specifi-
cally sets aside a location for tai chi every morning. It is
becoming more and more common to see a variety of
wellness programs at botanic gardens, from yoga classes to
walking programs for new mothers and their infants.
Working with the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center,
Denver Botanic Gardens offers a program for cancer
patients, family and caregivers using bonsai as a metaphor of
life. By finding beauty in a scraggly plant, the art of bonsai
offers patients lessons in gardening and life.
One of the most exciting innovations for encouraging
life-long health and wellness in botanical gardens is
the modern approach to children's gardens. While early
children's gardens go back to the first half of the twentieth
century, Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Children Garden
was opened in 1914, as time goes on there is a concerted
effort to make sure new children's gardens are specifically
designed to not only instill an appreciation of plants and
nature in kids, but also to improve manual dexterity
and active behavior. The Family Garden at the Lady Bird
Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas opened in
2014 and features a variety of designed elements that
promote active play to enhance children's' physical devel-
opment. Moving forward, children's gardens will continue
to build on exciting collaborations with designers and
architects to provide spaces that encourage children to
engage in climbing, jumping, balancing, exploring and other
active play activities that will benefit their physical and
emotional development.
Botanic gardensplant displays consist of diverse species
from all over the world in a limited area. These create
unique species assemblages that one would never find
in natural environments [12]. Knowledge of sustainable
horticultural practices are critical to responsibly maintain
such displays and provide tremendous opportunity to
educate the public on horticultural techniques that can be
adopted by others with positive impacts on environmental
Plant collections in a botanic garden can be displayed
in numerous ways. Early botanic gardens had a scientific
underpinning to the exhibition of their living collection by
displaying them as taxonomic or systematic assemblages.
In contemporary botanic gardens, this has morphed into
assembling plants in thematic displays in naturalistic or
formal designs, though without losing the scientific basis of
the collections. In many cases plant assemblages reflect a
specific ecosystem, emphasizing plant adaptations to these
4 CAB Reviews
ecosystems. Displays showcasing economically important
plants as well as plants with ethnobotanical interests are
common. Displays should be informed by their audience,
use, scientific and conservation classification, ecological
attributes, beauty, design and educational value.
Plant Introduction
For the past 400 years, botanic gardens have served as plant
introduction centers playing a major role in the spread of
germplasm for agriculture, forestry, economic and orna-
mental plants around the world, helping establish agricul-
tural economies in several tropical and subtropical
countries. With the establishment of formal agricultural
stations in the early twentieth century, the role of botanic
gardens in plant introduction, except for ornamental plants,
largely disappeared. In the face of global demographic
and climatic changes, reasserting this role of assessing and
introducing new germplasm of ornamental and economi-
cally important plants by botanic gardens will become even
more important. To advance contemporary plant intro-
duction programs, Heywood [13] identified the following
Germplasm targets should be broadened to include
underutilized crops, making a contribution to improved
health and nutrition, food security, livelihoods and eco-
logical sustainability
Closer cooperation with agricultural genebanks, genetic
resource communities, and the nursery industry
Agreement between botanic gardens and the agriculture
sector and other collaborators identifying their individual
responsibilities in order to avoid duplication of efforts
The quality and sampling of accessions should be strictly
controlled with protocols established for proper sampl-
ing, storage and testing
Proper evaluation of introductions before they are
disseminated in order to screen new introductions for
potential risk as invasive species
Information on the accessions of the introduced plants
and their fate needs to be well managed and disseminated
such that information is assembled and documented
within the global network for access and future use by
any interested party
Adherence to guidelines and codes of conduct for
plant introductions by botanic gardens in association
with other agencies such as the Convention on Biological
Sustainable Horticulture
Currently, some of the most advanced work on sustain-
able horticultural education is coming out of botanic
gardens. For example, the Sustainable SITES Initiative
( is the result of a collaboration of the
American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird
Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at
Austin and the US Botanic Garden. This program devel-
oped over 9 years to present a LEED (Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design) like certification system for
landscape design and engineering professionals that create
a marketplace for sustainable landscape design and con-
struction. The program is currently administered by the
US Green Business Certification Institute, which is also the
certifier for LEED. Programs like SITES, and its homeowner
companion Landscape for Life (,
provide some of the best practical education for a public
hungry for reputable strategies for sustainable horticulture.
Gardens are critically placed to set examples for a variety
of best management practices across multiple areas
of sustainability. As centers of horticultural excellence
with knowledgeable staff, botanic gardens are often the first
to notice new invasive pests. Working with the National
Plant Diagnostic Network, the American Public Gardens
Association set up the Sentinel Plant Network (http://www. in 2010 which facilitates the
early detection of high-consequence plant pests and patho-
gens to protect plants throughout the country. In addition,
botanic gardens are leading the way through pledging not to
use invasive species in their displays and providing some
of the most visible examples of wildlife supporting horti-
culture through programs such as the Million Pollinator
Garden Challenge (
Looking forward, botanic gardens will continue to adjust
their horticultural displays to provide ever more advanced
examples of horticultural systems that mimic natural
ecosystems. The ultimate goal will be garden spaces that
utilize the processes of succession, biogeochemical cycling
and evolution to create resilient and self-sustaining
Plant Collections Management
Core to any botanic garden is its living plant collections. An
important characteristic that differentiates botanic gardens
from ornamental gardens or parks is the scientific under-
pinning of its living plant collections [3]. Plant collections
need to meet defined quality control standards, which are
usually governed by a comprehensive Collections Policy [14].
Hohn [15] identified three documents that guide well-
managed collections insuring adherence to the institutions
mission a collections management policy, a collections
management manual and a collections plan.
As institutions grow, it becomes necessary for each
garden to rethink their collections management and expan-
sion policies, prioritizing whether they are for research,
conservation, and/or educational purposes based on space
availability, staff resources and fiscal sustainability [16]. This
will encourage better management and utility of unfocused
collections that may represent inefficient resource use.
In particular, the pool of both internal and external
researchers utilizing collections should be expanded so as
to reverse trends in the dwindling support and use of living
collections [17]. Effective collections management is key
for the accessibility and utility of living collections for
research, conservation, horticulture and education [18].
S. Krishnan and A. Novy 5
Plant Records in a botanic garden will help ensure that
the plant collections are named and labelled accurately
and documented and tracked in a plant records database.
Periodic plant name verification is conducted in order to
confirm an existing name, change an existing name to
another name or to determine the identity of an unknown
plant. This involves checking validity of names according to
the code of botanical and horticultural nomenclature rep-
resenting accepted taxa. Though slow and time consuming,
verification is a fundamental task of curating and maintaining
the integrity of a botanic garden collection [14], especially
since the explosion of molecular genetic research has
elucidated phylogenetic relationships between species and
driven taxonomic corrections.
Plant Research
The level of plant research conducted in a botanic garden
depends on available resources. Research can be conducted
through affiliations with universities, independent research-
ers, NGO's, industry, government agencies and/or through
local and national networks.
Taxonomic and Systematics studies using Botanic
Herbaria and living collections held in botanic gardens
constitute a data bank of our planets plant life and play a
key role in advancing the knowledge of biological diversity.
Unfortunately, living collections are underutilized for
research purposes, which could lead to the risk of losing
relevance in the scientific community [17]. Many herbaria
located in botanic gardens serve the purpose of support-
ing scientific studies in the identification and classification
of species [16]. The Muséum National dHistoire Naturelle
(MNHN) in Paris, utilizing the tropical living collections at
their Département des Jardins Botaniques et Zoologiques
(DJBZ) and the herbarium at their Département
Systématique et Evolution (DSE), contribute to achieving
Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
(GSPC) [16]. The original GSPC Target 1 aimed to develop
a widely accessible working list of known plant species as a
step towards a complete world flora,most of which have
been achieved. The new 2020 target aims to develop an
online flora of all plants [19].
Living collections serve a complementary role for field-
work and herbarium studies. For plants not easily pre-
served as herbarium specimens, the study of living
collections is valuable for the development of monographs
and floras. They are also valuable for systematic, molecular
and phylogenetic studies and enable the study of plants
whose original locality has been destroyed or is inaccessible
[16]. In addition, they also serve as an excellent source for
research in biogeography, plant physiology, pharmaceutical
biology, conservation and restoration research [3] and can
be executed by gardens of varying size [17].
Restoration Ecology
In the twenty-first century, degradation and loss of eco-
systems and landscapes is of major concern for humanity,
especially those vulnerable to climate change [20]. There is
a need and opportunity for biological and physical scientists
to help improve degraded ecosystems thorough implemen-
tation of on-the-ground restoration with botanic gardens
playing a leading role [20]. Botanic gardens are well posi-
tioned in this arena since many of the disciplines essential
for practicing restoration ecology are already represented
in botanic gardens such as plant taxonomy, horticulture,
DNA fingerprinting, geographical information systems,
seed banking and seed science, conservation biology and
genetics, plant physiology, mycology, etc. [20]. By building
on their preexisting core strengths, botanic gardens can
play a big role in applied sciences such as ecological
restoration and continue their excellence in basic plant
sciences such as phylogenetics, biogeography and evol-
utionary biology.
Modern botanic gardens contribute to the sustainable
development of our societies by serving as centres of plant
conservation, research and education [3]. Though living
collections safeguard plant germplasm, they are often
underutilized for plant conservation [18]. The need for
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity became
globally recognized by botanic gardens in the second half of
the twentieth century with many gardens becoming actively
engaged in the conservation of rare and threatened
plant species. Establishment of standardized protocols
for ex situ conservation of genetic diversity of rare and
threatened species in living collections or in seed banks
is currently being undertaken by botanic gardens, which
should be seen as complimentary approaches to in situ
conservation [3].
Ex situ collections of plants of conservation concern in
a botanic garden fall into one of two categories those
collected intentionally with clear conservation objectives
and those that have been collected and maintained over a
period of time in an ad hocmanner. For ex situ con-
servation collections to be of value in conservation and
recovery programs, they need to have certain qualities such
as known provenance and genetic diversity representative
of wild populations [14].
Given limited resources, the value of living collections
should be assessed so as to create collections priorities.
Cibrian-Jaramillo et al. [18] identified three main indi-
cators in assessing the value of living collections for plant
conservation: (1) information of species imperilment;
(2) genetic representation; and (3) operation costs associ-
ated with maintaining the genetic representation. They
proposed a strategy for conservation of threatened species
through efficient and sustainable use of living collections by
assigning an integrated Conservation Value for each species
derived from species threat rank, genetic tools and their
association to the operational costs of maintaining a living
6 CAB Reviews
collection. This study compliments earlier work by Namoff
et al. [21] which established that greater genetic diversity is
conserved in larger collections, genetic capture increases at
a diminishing rate as collection size increases, and increased
investment in a collection as determined by more plants
maintained does not increase the ex situ conservation value
of a collection at a certain point.
With over 700 member institutions in 118 countries,
BGCI, the centre of a global network of gardens, has docu-
mented over 150 000 plants in cultivation in botanic
gardens, thousands of which are threatened with extinction
in the wild [4]. National and international networks like
the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) and
BGCI significantly increase the impact of individual botanic
gardens in conservation, research and education [3]. These
networks allow for exchange of knowledge and expertise,
sharing of plant germplasm, identification of collections
gaps, and development of standards and codes of conduct
[3]. The International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in
Conservation and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
(GSPC) are two documents guiding conservation in botanic
With the adoption of the GSPC under the United
Nations Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2002,
the field of plant conservation has seen remarkable trans-
formation with many botanic gardens worldwide playing
an important role and implementing new initiatives [22].
The strategy outlined 16 outcome-oriented targets to
be achieved by 2010. Post 2010, the updated GSPC
20112020 was created within the broader framework
of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 20112020 outlining
five objectives and 16 targets [19]. Commitment and
adherence to these targets by botanic gardens will be key
to achieve desired conservation outcomes.
Climate Change
Botanic gardens are well positioned to provide a leadership
role in climate change research and education because of
their diverse plant collections from wide geographic areas
and their knowledge and data on plant systematics, distrib-
ution and physiology [2324]. Primack and Miller-Rushing
[24] identified five unique characteristics of botanic gardens
that provide important contributions to climate change
research: 1) by growing a wide variety of plant species
together in one place, botanic gardens represent valuable
common garden experiments; 2) by growing diverse spe-
cies together from different geographic regions of the
world that would not be found growing together under
natural conditions representing diversity and broad taxo-
nomic representation, these collections facilitate compara-
tive ecological, evolutionary and phylogenetic studies;
3) the meticulous record keeping of phenology and horti-
cultural attributes combined with systematics research help
track spring flowering and leafing out times and their links
to temperature and climate change; 4) plant trading
among the global network of botanic gardens has resulted
in the growing of genetically similar or identical specimens
at various locations throughout the world helping track
growth characteristics under a wide range of conditions;
and 5) knowledgeable staff at botanic gardens make valuable
members of interdisciplinary research teams and are in a
special position to convey the impacts of climate change to
the public.
In addition to living collections, herbarium collections
and photographs are also valuable tools for studying climate
change and plantsresponses [24]. Responses of plants to
changing climate can be documented by examining past
flowering information from herbarium specimens and com-
paring them with present flowering information [24]. Dated
photographs when compared with current observations
can also informative in examining impacts of temperature
on flowering times to see if plants are now flowering earlier
than in the past [24].
Education and Outreach
Botanic gardens play an important role in raising public
awareness about threats to plant diversity and the con-
sequences of biodiversity loss on human well-being [3].
Botanic gardens worldwide reach over 200 million people
each year and represent a huge opportunity for providing
informal education to a broad spectrum of society about
the crucial role of plants in supporting ecosystem and
human health [3, 6]. Programs targeting specific audiences
such as children, adults and professional educators should
continue to be developed and advanced.
Education in botanic gardens can come in a variety of forms:
childrens summer camp, family programs, school programs
such as field trips, teacher training and development, adult
education and certification programs as well and student
internships. Programming, or mediating visitor experiences,
is influenced by the quality of the program and the oppor-
tunity for the participants to make personal connections.
Features influencing the success of programs include: place-
based programs that relate to a particular location moti-
vating interest; project-based programs that use hands-on,
interactive approaches; developmentally appropriate pro-
grams that meet the needs of the specific audience served;
internal collaborations utilizing the expertise of multiple
departments within the gardens; programs linked to local
school curricular standards; and periodic program evalu-
ation to ensure the programs are meeting intended
goals [25].
Adult education programs within botanic gardens
are also diverse, varying with the audiences they serve.
Many gardens offer continuing education programs, under-
graduate and graduate programs, student internships,
teacher professional development and certification pro-
grams. Comprehensive planning, exceptional customer
service, quality instruction and facilities, and continuous
evaluation drive the success of adult education programs
S. Krishnan and A. Novy 7
[26] and all education programs. Citizen science is another
emerging area of engaging the community in science,
leading to individual stewardship of the environment and
adoption of sustainable practices through hands-on
Food Security
Our world population is expected to exceed nine billion
people by 2050. Feeding nine billion people in an era of
climate change and loss of biodiversity is an important topic
that is currently being addressed through various fora.
Meeting this challenge will require concerted efforts
addressing complex social, environmental and economic
issues. With the urbanization of our society, knowledge
about agricultural systems and growing food plants is
waning. Located predominantly in urban areas, botanic
gardens are well placed to play a critical role in addressing
the issue of food security [27].
Display of agricultural plants in botanic gardens is not
a new concept. In fact, the role of botanic gardens as field
museums of agriculture was proposed in the early twentieth
century [28]. Today, many botanic gardens display individ-
ual food plants, often in the tradition of the Victorian exotic
aesthetic, though few botanical institutions display food
crops in the context of production agriculture. None-
theless, botanic gardens are well positioned to educate the
public by providing the full picture of the agricultural
landscape through presenting crop plants and agricultural
technologies common on farms such as agrochemical use,
conventional and sustainable cropping systems, biotechnol-
ogy and mechanization. Such representations of agriculture
in the population centres where botanic gardens are
located are necessary to educate the public so that they
can participate in democratic processes relating to the
future of food and agriculture. In order to improve their
capacity to present agriculture more comprehensively,
botanic gardens should form partnerships with land grant
universities and other institutions with active research and
programs in agriculture, federal and state agriculture
departments, industry groups, farmersorganizations and
international agricultural organizations [27]. While there
are a handful of botanic gardens that are large enough
to support independent research activities in agricultural
development and seed banking, most institutions will be
able to make the greatest impact on food security through
education, spearheading community involvement in agri-
cultural issues and collaboration with the already extensive
network of agricultural research institutions.
Many botanic gardens are involved in projects working
with local communities to improve nutrition and access to
food by educating people about useful plants, cultivation
techniques and their use. By promoting home and
community gardens, these projects improve nutrition and
health in their target communities [29]. Through the Urban
Food Initiatives program and Windy City Harvest, Denver
Botanic Gardens and Chicago Botanic Garden respectively
are leaders in urban agricultural training in the United
States. By offering hands-on training, other institutions can
follow these forward-thinking examples in training urba-
nites to grow and prepare food, manage urban agriculture
businesses and improve nutritional availability and health
Horticultural Therapy and Human Well-being
Botanic gardens have aspects of nature and leisure offering
unique experiences that may impact visitorsindividual
well-being [30]. As aesthetically pleasing physical environ-
ments, gardens can be utilized to reduce social challenges
brought about by various societal stresses, thereby increas-
ing the well-being of people such as increased life expec-
tancy [6]. Kohlleppel et al. [30] cite work by Owen in 1994
who measured the blood pressure of visitorsto the Wichita
Gardens in Kansas and found a decrease in the systolic
blood pressure significantly after their visit and by Bennett
in 1995 who found a decrease in perceived stress by most
visitors to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the New York
Botanical Garden. The study by Kohlleppel et al. [30]
conducted at three botanic gardens in Florida found that
botanic gardens could be places for coping with the effects
of stress. The literature on the curative impacts of exposure
to green spaces and plants continues to grow with mean-
ingful advances in relation to cognitive health [31], mental
health [32], depression [33] and recovery from surgery
[34]. As our understanding in this burgeoning science on
the myriad physical and psychological effects of interaction
with nature improves, gardens should make concerted
efforts to both incorporate them into their own programs
and disseminate this important knowledge.
Target 13 of the GSPC states that indigenous and local
knowledge, innovations and practices associated with plant
resources, maintained or increased, as appropriate, to support
customary use, sustainable livelihoods, local food security
and health care [19]. BGCI identifies four categories of
human well-being that the international network of botanic
gardens can impact: (1) improving nutrition, (2) improving
health care, (3) financial poverty alleviation (providing
opportunities for income generation and financial security)
and (4) social and community benefits (improving the
quality of life through non-material benefits). Many commu-
nities around the world do not have access to conventional
western medicine and depend on plant-based medicines. By
working directly with these communities and empowering
them to safeguard these plants, botanic gardens can play a
significant role in improving access to them through
demonstrations and training. By utilizing the expertise
and resources of botanic gardens, they can contribute to
income generation and financial security by educating and
empowering local people on how to use plants and make
useful products for sale. Alternatively, botanic gardens in
developed countries can contribute to financial security of
communities in developing countries through purchase
of plant-based products for sale in their own gift shop while
equitably channeling resources back to the indigenous
communities that developed the products.
8 CAB Reviews
Botanic gardens are important aesthetic, cultural and
scientific establishments that contribute to the well-being
of our society. In the twenty-first century, gardens will
play a critical role in addressing global issues such as
climate change, food security, biodiversity conservation,
environmental education, sustainability and human well-
being. To advance these expanded mission areas, gardens
will be challenged to address issues that extend beyond the
garden walls by placing social and environmental respon-
sibility as key institutional mission drivers. This will require
a new generation of trained professionals, with multi-
disciplinary training. In addition, adding these complex and
new initiatives into the already considerable efforts of
botanic gardens will represent a heavy burden on resource
availability of institutions. New methods of attracting and
generating revenue and other resources will need to be
developed in order to maximize the positive impact of
botanic gardens on society. Global, national and regional
networks of botanic gardens will play a key role in building
a platform for exchange of information and expertise.
The twenty-first century provides exciting opportunities
for botanic gardens in playing an important role in addres-
sing societal issues leading to positive impacts within
Our sincere thanks to Theresa Dahlman for creating
Figure 1 and to two anonymous reviewers whose com-
ments greatly improved this manuscript.
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10 CAB Reviews
... To overcome such challenges the establishment of botanical gardens and organizers such as Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) are essential to rescue plants globally by providing accessions. Thus, among many other things, botanic gardens offer the opportunity to preserve plant diversity outside of their natural habitats (Ex-situ conservation services) and play a significant part in averting the extinction of species through coordinated conservation efforts (Krishnan and Novy, 2017). ...
... The role of botanical garden in environmental education © North Carolina State University6. Role of Botanical gardenBotanical garden is an ideal destination for a wide range of scientific studiesKrishnan and Novy (2017). It is important source of plant ecology data collection, including phonological indicators of climate change, plant physiology and plant growth tactics, and plant-animal interactions(Herben et al. 2012). ...
Full-text available
Botanical gardens are extremely important institutions that safeguard the environment from ever-increasing environmental concerns, educate people about environmental issues, provision of recreational opportunities, conducting of various research and conservations. Their mission is to keep documented collections of living plants for scientific research, conservation, display, and education, but this may vary depending on the resources available and the special interests pursued at each garden. Botanists and gardeners are typically on the staff. Currently, about 3,765 botanical gardens conserve approximately 30% of the species. A wide and distinctive collection of living plants serves as a foundation for research and modern taxonomic studies in morphology, ecology, genetics, systematics, and evolution in the twenty-first-century botanical garden. Furthermore, botanical gardens provide germplasm for the hybridization of species, which allows for the improvement of economically important varieties of flowers, fruits, and vegetable plants. Prior to the establishment of the botanical garden, important components such as site selection, feasibility study, defined objectives, vision and mission, detailed design, construction specifications, theme establishment, weeds and pest control links, professional experts, and mode of operation must be considered. This review determines a brief description of the botanical garden, the conditions for establishment, and its role in plant and habitat protection.
... In the twenty-first century, the survival of plant collections in botanical gardens is considered as priority target. The collections are needed to solve many obstacles, not only because they were a national heritage from the mid-sixteenth to the nineteenth century or essential for study, introduction, acclimatization, and cultivation of high economic value and medicinal plants, focus on conservation and biodiversity, but they are now critical to tackling all odds of global issues outside the boundaries of those past times (Krishnan & Novy, 2016). ...
... They are now so important in contributing to solve issues such as climate change, food scarcity, sustainable conservation, restoration ecology, informal education, horticultural therapy, and human well-being (Chen & Sun, 2018;Galbraith et al., 2011;Krishnan & Novy, 2016;Ocak & Kurtaslan, 2017;Powledge, 2011). ...
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Preservation effort to prevent tree collections loss even on aged trees (> 100 years old) is one of important missions in Bogor Botanical Garden since its establishment in 1817. Abiotic factors such as global warming and biotic factors from pests and diseases can threaten the survival of aged tree collections. Their survival is also influenced by plant health’s deterioration as they age. As the BBG has many functions not only for conservation but also for human ecological activities, fallen tree accidents are becoming primary concern to prevent biodiversity loss and people’s lives. We examined 154 trees health to determine a falling probability of 1106 aged trees based on several factors that caused to fall in the past and to make model prediction generated by nine supervised machine learning algorithms. We also classify susceptibility of tree families prone to fall from the highest accuracy of algorithm prediction. Inverse Distance Weighted interpolation method was used to depict zone map of trees prone to fall. The prediction showed that Random Forest model had the highest accuracy and low false negative (FN) value which were important to minimize error calculation on aged trees was not prone to fall but it turns out to be prone to fall. It predicted 885 trees prone to fall which 358 had high probability to fall. Fabaceae, Lauraceae, Moraceae, Meliaceae, Dipterocarpaceae, Sapindaceae, Rubiaceae, Myrtaceae, Araucariaceae, Malvaceae, and Anacardiaceae were tree families that were highly predicted to fall.
... Botanical gardens represent the largest plant conservation network in the world [1], with diverse interconnected functions ranging from environmental education and scientific research to recreation [2,3]. Krishnan and Novy [4] reviewed different definitions of botanical gardens, and these definitions mainly emphasise the functions that gardens perform. For example, they were considered primarily as outdoor collections of labelled living plants in aesthetic landscapes, playing passive roles in their communities, as well as historical heritage sites. ...
... The results of this study are key to improving the development and implementation of integrated management plans to protect the integrity and sustainable conservation of the gardens' ecosystems from future impacts on botanical gardens as an important conservation strategy for the world's flora [2]. On the other hand, the horticultural plant propagations in botanical gardens can be pivotal for vegetation rehabilitation/restoration through reintroducing native species in degraded landscapes [2,4,[70][71][72]). ...
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The management of biological invasions, which pose a growing threat to natural resources and human well-being, is critical for reducing associated negative impacts. As part of the process of developing a strategy for the management of biological invasions in the South African National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI) gardens, we collated a list of alien plant species from 13 gardens as part of a situational analysis. We requested lists of alien plant species recorded in each of the SANBI’s gardens. A total of 380 records included 225 alien plant species belonging to 73 families. A significant number of species were intentionally introduced through horticultural trade as ornamentals (49%; n = 225), while 20.9% were consumed as either food or medicine by humans. Plant life forms included woody and herbaceous plants, graminoids, succulents and ferns. Herbaceous (42.7%; n = 225) and woody plants (3.8%) were the dominant life forms. The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden had the highest number of alien species (88 species), followed by Kirstenbosch (61 species) and Pretoria (46 species) National Botanical Gardens, with herbaceous species constituting the largest number in all gardens (i.e., 47, 19, and 27 species, respectively). The number of species that we recorded that were listed in the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEM: BA) (Act No. 10 of 2004): Alien and Invasive Species Regulations’ categories were not notably different from the number of unlisted species (58.2% vs. 42.8%). The number of species listed in the different categories varied significantly across the different gardens, with a significantly higher number of unlisted species and of Category 1b species in the Walter Sisulu, Kirstenbosch and Pretoria National Botanical Gardens than in other gardens. That a significantly larger number of alien species originated from South America points to the need to improve biosecurity controls on existing relations. The results of this study provided a baseline database to help comparison between successive surveys in future.
... Different cultures and societies attribute unique symbolic meanings to various flowers (Krishnan and Novy, 2016). Understanding these cultural associations can offer insights into the emotional and psychological responses they elicit. ...
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Flowers have been an integral part of human culture and aesthetics for centuries, but their influence extends beyond mere visual appeal. This review paper aims to delve into the intricate relationship between various flowers and human psychology. Through an analysis of existing literature, this paper explores how different flowers can evoke emotions, influence mood, and contribute to well-being. By examining the psychological effects of flowers in various settings, including home environments, healthcare facilities, and workplaces, this review provides insights into the potential therapeutic applications of flower exposure. The findings underscore the need for further research to fully understand the mechanisms underlying the impact of flowers on human psychology.
... This effort is in line with Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) target IV regarding plant diversity education and awareness [6]. At the botanic garden, education programs can be conducted in various forms such as training for teachers and student internships [7]. ...
Conference Paper
Since its initiation, the Bali Botanic Garden (BBG) Seed Bank as an ex-situ conservation facility is conducted seed conservation and research programs. BBG Seed Bank also engages with education programs as a part and to support the botanic garden roles in biodiversity education. This study aims to review BBG Seed Bank participation in botanic education and discuss the challenges and opportunities that need to be addressed in the future. During this study available data regarding BBG Seed Bank education program is sourced and descriptively analyzed. Resulted data shows that BBG Seed Bank is already engaged in numerous botanic education programs both for the academic and general public. However, improvement to overcome challenges such as the lack of staff quality and quantity, the limited facilities, various backgrounds of participants is essential to improve the education program. Digital and social media platforms should be utilized more intensively by the seed bank to enable its educational program to reach a wider audience.
... Renkli bahçecilik sergileri arasında sergilenen sanat, hem dikimleri hem de sanat eserlerini zenginleştirmektedir. Botanik sergileri, insanları sanata çekerken, izleyicileri de cezbetmektedir. Bahçeler ayrıca mevsimlik konserler için çekici bir mekanlardır (Krishnan & Novy, 2016). ...
Conference Paper
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Botanical gardens can be interpreted as the longing for nature of people who have been in urban life for centuries. Botanical gardens, which emerged as a reaction to mass tourism and support approaches such as ecotourism, green tourism, and nature tourism, increase their importance day by day in terms of incorporating functions such as learning, rest and recreation. It can be shown as ideal areas not only for touristic activities, but also for daily life, activity, learning, education and research. Botanical gardens, which are effective in the protection of nature and other living things and in maintaining the dialectic of nature, have become important areas for the acquisition, protection and promotion of species, especially rare and endangered species. Therefore, the effectiveness of these areas on many sectors and fields of activity shows that the importance of botanical gardens will increase in the future. This study, which was prepared to evaluate botanical gardens within the scope of ecotourism with examples from the world, is a conceptual study. From this point of view, in this study, it is aimed to reveal the importance of botanical gardens in terms of ecotourism and whether botanical gardens are an important component of the urban outdoor system, considering the activities and facilities provided to the city.
... However, a larger number of plants quoted in FGS and Prodromus may be introduced and cultivated in the above-mentioned botanic gardens and/or the network of botanic gardens in Greece, in order to detect the diversity and the life-cycle of wild plants within the context of the seasons, floral colours in Mediterranean ecosystems, and collection and deposition of seeds in seed-banks. As such, botanic gardens can be used as common gardens, where researchers can conduct unmatched comparative research studies of plant ecophysiology, morphology, anatomy, and responses to climate change [77,78]. It is worth mentioning that Sibthorp introduced new species into English horticulture; moreover, he returned to Oxford from his eastern Mediterranean explorations with seeds, bulbs, and corms for the Botanic Garden, but few details of these collections have survived, and the plants and any knowledge about their propagation have been lost through many routes [7] (p. ...
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As the interest in natural, sustainable ecosystems arises in many fields, wild plant diversity is reconsidered. The present study is based on extant literature evidence from the journey of John Sibthorp (Professor of Botany, Oxford University) to Peloponnese (Greece) in pre-industrial time. In the year 1795, Peloponnese was a botanically unknown region, very dangerous for travellers and under civil unrest, in conjuncture with a pre-rebellion period. Our study reveals approximately 200 wild plant taxa that were collected from Peloponnese localities in 1795, transported to Oxford University (UK), and quoted in the magnificent edition Flora Graeca Sibthorpiana of the 19th century. Moreover, these plants currently constitute a living collection in Peloponnese, confirmed according to updated data on the vascular Flora of Greece. The presented lists constitute a source of information for plant biologists, linking the past to the present, shedding light on the study of adaptive traits of wild Mediterranean plants and revealing the temporal dimension of natural history. Nowadays, increasing and thorough understanding of the considered plants’ functionality to abiotic and biotic environmental stimuli provides a new framework of sustainability and management options.
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Urban green spaces (UGSs) act as a comprehensive tool for environmental sustainability, regulating the urban ecosystem services and microclimatic conditions, protecting biodiversity, and providing various socio-ecological benefits to urban dwellers. The rapid population increase and haphazard urban growth have reduced the urban green cover, consequently increasing the urban surface temperatures and causing irreversible biodiversity loss. UGSs have a great potential to mitigate urban heat island (UHI) effects sustainably and air pollution, providing water retention capability and various ecosystem services for ecological sustenance. The present chapter provides a framework for the need for UGSs in rapidly growing cities. It elucidates the integrated three-dimensional approach, including social, economic, and environmental aspects for sustainable utilisation and management of UGSs. Planning strategies like City Master Plans, landscape approaches, government capacity plans, etc., are adapted to manage and develop UGSs. Nature-based solutions effectively contribute to mitigation and adaptation against natural disasters, climate resilience, and societal challenges to impart their endurance in improving the economic, environmental, and social conditions of cities by restoring degraded ecosystems. Moreover, future recommendations with various perspectives considering Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have also been emphasised to ameliorate the increasing pollution in urban areas.KeywordsUrban green spacesClimate ResilienceDisaster risk reduction and mitigationNature-based solutionsEnvironmental sustainabilityPlanningAnd policies
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Ex-situ conservation places such as botanical gardens require sufficient soil quality to support introduced species from various phytogeographical zones. The soil quality of the Botanic Garden of Indian Republic (BGIR), Noida, Uttar Pradesh, was evaluated to quantify soil nutrients. The dependency of one nutrient on the other nutrients was investigated using Pearson correlation and Multilinear regression analysis (MLRA). At the 0.05 level of significance, the nutrients Log10S and Log10EC ( r = 0.97), N and OC ( r = 0.98), Mn and OC ( r = 0.97), Mn and N ( r = 0.92), Ca and pH ( r = − 0.91), Cu and Fe ( r = 0.94) were found to be associated. Correspondence Analysis (C.A.) has been performed to find the association of soil elements with the soil type of study site. The spatial indices like NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), EVI2 (Enhanced Vegetation Index), ARVI (Atmospherically Resistant Vegetation Index), NPCRI (Normalized Pigment Chlorophyll Index), RDVI (Renormalized Difference Vegetation Index) have shown significant correlation with the Log 10 S, Mg, Log 10 Zn, B and Fe respectively (with respective Pearson correlation coefficient r = 0.88, r = − 0.90, r = − 0.93, r = 0.91, r = 0.92 at P < 0.05). ARVI, along with other indices SCI (Soil Composition Index), NDMI (Normalized Difference Moisture Index), and MSAVI (Modified Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index), are also the predictor variables for Log 10 Zn ( r = − 0.89, r = − 0.88 r = 0.92 at P < 0.05 respectively). MAVI2 (Moisture Adjusted Vegetation Index) positively correlates with OC, Mn content ( r = 0.91, r = 0.93 respectively). MSAVI is negatively interrelated with Ca ( r = − 0.89), SCI is negatively interrelated with Log 10 K ( r = − 0.98), BSI (Bare Soil Index) is positively associated with pH ( r = 0.91), and negatively with Ca ( r = − 0.93). At the same time, other indices like SAVI (Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index), SATVI (Soil Adjusted Total Vegetation Index), NDWI (Normalized Difference Water Index), and DVI (Difference Vegetation Index) have failed to explain the presence of soil nutrients based on spectral reflectance. This study is important for understanding the changing nutrient status of soil at the conservation site for successfully establishing plants from different phytogeographical zones.
Full-text available
Based on centuries of historical development, botanic gardens have now developed into leading institutions in the fields of conservation, research, education and recreation on a global scale. Botanic gardens increasingly play a role in providing a scientific basis towards sustainable use and conservation of plant diversity. Due to a rising public awareness on biodiversity, they become important windows to the public. Gullele Botanic Garden is predestined to make an impact as a model institution for the Horn of Africa and beyond, building upon achievements already made through programs such as the Ethiopian Flora Project and using an excellent location in Addis Ababa as one of the major cities of the African continent. Making an impact in the area of plant biodiversity appears to be achieved best as a concerted action of administrative and scientific stakeholders. Becoming a nucleus in a future Ethiopian Botanic Gardens Network, Gullele Botanic Garden should have the potential to significantly contribute to conservation and sustainable development, as well as enriching the cultural landscape in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
Full-text available
Consistent with their historical focus on the functional utility of plants, botanical gardens have an important opportunity to help ensure global food and ecosystem security by expanding their living collections, research and education programmes to emphasize agriculture and its impacts. A gricultural land represents both the planet's largest and most rapidly expanding ecosystem, and its single greatest driver of biodiversity loss 1. Cultivated food plants cover roughly 12% of the world's land surface, with another 20% devoted to pastures 2. With about 800 million of the world's 7.3 billion people currently malnourished, and roughly 220,000 additional people to feed every day 3,4 , we need to cultivate robust and diverse agricultural systems capable of supporting healthy, productive and secure lives for all. Meeting this challenge will require concerted, well-informed societal efforts to address the complex social, environmental and economic issues involved. In an increasingly urbanized world, however, our familiarity with, and knowledge of, food plants and our extensive agricultural system is waning. Efforts to educate society about agriculture, to ensure well-informed decision making, must meet people in the urban locations where most of us now live. Botanical gardens and arboreta constitute an extensive, primarily urban system of institutions dedicated to plant knowledge, research and public education, and are well placed to play a critical role in this area (Fig. 1). Botanical gardens are living repositories of plant biodiversity that maintain documented collections of plants for display, education, conservation and research. Collectively, the world's more than 3,000 botanical gardens cultivate approximately one-third of known plant species. Many botanical gardens conduct research, contributing valuable information on plant identification, geographic distributions, morphology, reproduction and traditional uses. Furthermore, each year botanical gardens worldwide attract over 250 million visitors who come to gardens in order to experience and learn about plants 5. Thus, botanical gardens are uniquely situated to advance knowledge of food plants and the impacts of their cultivation, and to help promote an understanding of the relationship between plants, agriculture and the environment. Rooted in agriculture Historically, many botanical gardens focused on plants for their utility rather than their aesthetic or diversity value. One of the first botanical gardens in Europe, the Botanical Garden of Padua, Italy, originated in 1545 from a Benedictine collection of medicinal herbs 6. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, colonial powers founded a number of botanical gardens to investigate the commercial value of local crops and wild plants. These gardens, like Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, Mauritius, became centres for the dispatch, receipt, propagation and establishment of crops 7. Until the early twentieth century, food plants and their wild relatives played a significant role in many botanical gardens 8 , with prominent scientists advocating 9 that they should become " field museums of agriculture ". The utilitarian focus of botanical gardens has, in the past century, shifted to horticultural displays and conservation, rarely emphasizing crops, conservation of crop biodiversity, agricultural ecosystems or their impacts on wild plant biodiversity. As the world's primary repositories of living plant collections, botanical gardens are in an excellent position to expand efforts to document, conserve and make available wild plant diversity in the service of improving agriculture. By highlighting such plants, botanical gardens could also play an enhanced role in educating visitors about the food plants and agricultural systems on which we all depend.
Full-text available
ADDITIONAL INDEX WORDS. depressive symptoms, elderly, plants, nature, out-doors, institutional care, human issues in horticulture SUMMARY. Depression is a major health problem among the elderly. Its prevalence is high among those in long-term care. Exposure to the garden environment may alleviate depressive symptoms, but there is little research evidence to confi rm this hypothesis. In this study we investigated the perceived effects and meanings related to garden visits among older individuals living in long-term care and assessed whether there are associations between experi-ences from garden visits and self-rated depression. Data were gathered by surveying 30 elderly people living in Kustaankartano, a nursing home and service center for elderly people in Helsinki, Finland. Prevalence of self-rated depression was high; 46% of the participants were depressed. Both being in the garden and seeing it from the balcony and observing nature were of great signifi cance for most of the participants. For more than half of the participants, visiting the garden improved mood, quality of sleep, and ability to concentrate; it generated feelings of recovery and promoted peace of mind. Affective effects of visiting the garden tended to be more pronounced among the depressed than among those not depressed. The depressed did not consider social interaction and participation in social activities very important for their well-being. Depression tended to be related to perception of the residents that they experienced hindrances and distresses associated with visiting the garden. Although there were indica-tive differences between the depressed and nondepressed participants in garden experiences, the results suggest that visiting the garden may affect the subjective well-being of both groups positively.
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Living botanic garden plant collections are a fundamental and underutilized worldwide resource for plant conservation. A common goal in managing a botanical living collection is to maintain the greatest biodiversity at the greatest economic and logistic efficiency. However to date there is no unified strategy for managing living plants within and among botanic gardens. We propose a strategy that combines three indicators of the management priority of a collection: information on species imperilment, genetic representation, and the operational costs associated to maintaining genetic representation. In combination or alone, these indicators can be used to assay effectiveness and efficiency of living collections, and to assign a numeric conservation value to an accession. We illustrate this approach using endangered palms that have been studied to varying degrees. Management decisions can be readily extended to other species based on our indicators. Thus, the conservation value of a species can be shared through existing databases with other botanic gardens and provide a list of recommendations toward a combined management strategy for living collections. Our approach is easily implemented and well suited for decision-making by gardens and organizations interested in plant conservation.
Botanical gardens make unique contributions to climate change research, conservation, and public engagement. They host unique resources, including diverse collections of plant species growing in natural conditions, historical records, expert staff, and large numbers of visitors and volunteers. Networks of botanical gardens spanning biomes and continents can expand the value of these resources. Over the past decade, research at botanical gardens has advanced our understanding of climate change impacts on plant phenology, physiology, anatomy, and conservation. For example, researchers have utilized botanical garden networks to assess anatomical, and functional traits associated with phenological responses to climate change. New methods have enhanced the pace and impact of this research, including phylogenetic and comparative methods, and online databases of herbarium specimens and photographs that allow studies to expand geographically, temporally, and taxonomically in scope. Botanical gardens have grown their community and citizen science programs, informing the public about climate change and monitoring plants more intensively than possible with garden staff alone. Despite these advances, botanical gardens are still underutilized in climate change research. To address this, we review recent progress and describe promising future directions for research and public engagement at botanical gardens.
This paper continues the Guest Essay theme on the positive contribution that experiences in gardens and nature can make to people. It draws on her own and others’ personal experiences, particularly in Chicago Botanic Garden, to demonstrate that time spent in a garden, whether as a casual visitor or as a participant in specialised horticulture therapy and education programmes, can improve mental health and physical well-being and that this is to the benefit of individuals and society as a whole. The paper finishes with a comment on the value of the scientific work carried out by botanic gardens and how this also contributes positively to mental health by empowering people to do something constructive about the ecological challenges facing society.
Stress has been characterized as an epidemic and has been found to play an important role in causing many diseases. In contrast, people often seek out nature and green spaces to help cope with life stress. Botanic gardens provide opportunities for people to immerse in nature, explore their horticultural interests, and experience recreation and leisure. The literature suggests that all of these activities are effective coping strategies against life stress. This study explored the effectiveness of botanic garden visits as a coping strategy. The findings of this study suggest that botanic gardens could be a place for coping with the effects of stress. Botanic garden visitation, along with gender, stressful life events, perceived health, and self-esteem, was found to be important in explaining reported levels of depression. Data also showed that visitors who received the most benefit of stress reduction were those most needing a coping strategy.
Botanical gardens, those islands of serenity amid society’s increasing din, were defined early on as places “open to the public and in which the plants are labeled.” Today, the purpose of these gardens has greatly expanded to include rescuing plant biodiversity, offering serious programs of research and education to citizens of all ages and instruction for skilled botanists, creating aesthetically pleasing refuges from modern life, and maintaining storage centers both on-site and offsite for the long-term preservation of plant species against the time when they will have vanished from their usual habitats. Even though the role of botanical gardens has expanded, they are faced with constant funding