Building a Global System for the Conservation of all Plant Diversity

a Vision for Botanic Gardens and Botanic Gardens Conservation International

  • Paul Smith Botanic Gardens Conservation International


Botanic gardens and arboreta offer the opportunity to conserve and manage a wide range of plant diversity ex situ, and in situ in the broader landscape. The rationale that botanic gardens have a major role to play in preventing plant species extinctions is based on the assumptions that (1) there is no technical reason why any plant species should become extinct, and (2) that, as a professional community, botanic gardens possess a unique set of skills that encompass finding, identifying, collecting, conserving and growing plant diversity across the entire taxonomic spectrum. Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) is the pivotal centre of a global network of c. 2,600 botanic gardens and arboreta, which includes living collections representing at least one-third of known plant diversity; world class seed banks, glasshouses and tissue culture infrastructures; and technical knowledge networks covering all aspects of plant conservation. Following the example of the crop conservation community, BGCI is promoting the concept of a cost-effective, rational,
botanic garden-centred Global System for the conservation and management of plant diversity.
This system will aim to collect, conserve, characterise and cultivate samples from all of the world’s rare and threatened plants as an insurance policy against their extinction in the wild and as a source of plant material for human innovation, adaptation and resilience.

Author Biography

Paul Smith, Botanic Gardens Conservation International
Secretary General


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How to Cite
Smith, P. (2016). Building a Global System for the Conservation of all Plant Diversity . Sibbaldia: The Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, (14), 5-13.