Botanic gardens and plant pathogens: a risk-based approach at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Introduced and emerging plant diseases as a result of live plant movements are increasingly recognised as a global environmental and economic threat. This presents a fundamental challenge to botanic gardens and other ex situ plant conservation organisations: how to continue this important work while recognising and mitigating the plant health risks. The approach taken by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is presented as a case study, showing how we have reduced ecological and evolutionary opportunities for pests in ex situ conservation and are monitoring the success of these efforts. We have developed protocols in quarantine and horticultural practice, expanded visitor engagement and public education, and taken a precautionary approach towards plant distribution supported by in-house diagnostics and working closely with statutory authorities. We hope that by sharing activities as well as difficulties, botanic gardens can acknowledge and address the new biosecurity landscape.
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