Assets and Liabilities: the Role of Evaluation in the Curation of Living Collections

Dave Aplin


The living collections of botanic gardens can be described as dynamic, varying over time to suit the demands of the institute. The majority of gardens throughout the world have insufficient resourcesto maintain ever-increasing collections. In order to keep collections meaningful to research and conservation activities and to distribute plant material in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) they need to be carefully directed; a mechanism to facilitate this is the process of evaluation. Evaluation is the periodic assessment of part of the collection to determine whether it remains fit for purpose. If a garden’s aim is to strive at improving the potential usefulness of its holdings then evaluation should be omnipresent.This paper outlines the necessity for evaluation and suggests tried and tested procedures to conduct such analyses. Examples from evaluations carried out at the Royal Botanic Garden, Jordan and the National Botanic Garden of Belgium (NBGB) are cited to illustrate the value of the process.

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