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    The Role of Botanical Gardens in

    Biodiversity-Related Education

    22 November 2018

    For biodivcanada Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Canadian and International Biodiversity

    Dr David Galbraith, Head of Science Royal Botanical Gardens (Canada)

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    Acknowledgment of Traditional Territories

    • I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking to you from the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe,

    Haudenosaunee, and Huron-Wendat Nations. First Nations

    and Métis Peoples have a long history in Ontario. I would like to

    pay respects today to the Six Nations of the Grand River

    Territory and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

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    Today’s Webinar

    • Biodiversity Challenges and Educational Needs

    • Audiences and Modes of Education

    • Capacity of Botanical Gardens in the 21st Century

    • Some Examples

    Jardí Botànic de Barcelona

    Upper: Barcelona Botanic Garden, Barcelona, Spain

    Lower: Bruce Botanical Food Garden, Ripley, Ontario, Canada

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    Demographic Challenges and Contact with Nature

    • November 2018: the human population is 7.7 billion and growing

    • 54.8% are Urban as of 2017

    • 81.4% are Urban in Canada in 2017 as example of developed economy

    • Lack of inclusion of plants or other botanical subjects in curricula at all


    • Shifting Baselines phenomenon

    Shanghai, China

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    Many People are Disconnected from Nature

    • Plant Blindness as an issue: many people do not perceive plants as “alive” or individuals/species

    • North Americans today recognize fewer than 10 plants but over 1,000 corporate logos and trademarks

    • Increase of screen time and digital recreation further disconnects

    growing children (and adults)

    from nature

    Winged Loosestrife

    Royal Botanical Gardens

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    "In the end we will conserve only what we love,

    we will love only what we understand;

    and we will understand only what we have been taught"

    Baba Dioum, Forestry Engineer, Senegal

    from a 1968 address to the IUCN General Assembly

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    Education Needed about Key Biodiversity Issues

    • Food security issues • Sustainable land management practices on small and large


    • Indigenous cultures and understanding their connections to plants and the land

    • Economic uses of plants • Climate change and threats to plant diversity • Plant conservation links to CBD, Aichi Targets, SDGs,


    • Capacity for plant conservation • Training of practitioners, including highly-qualified personnel

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    Barriers to Engagement about Biodiversity and Plants

    • Disconnection from nature, urbanization

    • Changes in information access, recreation, rise of “screen time”

    • Plant blindness

    • Lack of inclusion of plants or other botanical subjects in

    curricula at all levels

    • Shifting Baselines phenomenon

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    Aichi Biodiversity Targets

    • 14 of 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020 depend upon or speak to plant conservation in a substantial way

    • Just three examples:

    • Target 5 - By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly


    • Target 13 - By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable

    species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing

    genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.

    • Target 18 - By 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their

    customary use of biological resources, are respected, subject to national legislation and

    relevant international obligations, and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of

    the Convention with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, at

    all relevant levels.

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    Sustainable Development Goals

    • 11 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 depend upon or speak to plant conservation in a substantial way

    • Just three examples:

    SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and

    promote sustainable agriculture

    SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

    SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial

    ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt

    and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

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    Multimodal Biodiversity Education within Botanical


    • Formal education

    • Informal education

    • Interpretation

    • Professional education and development;

    Higher Education

    • Community and Volunteer


    Professional Plant identification Workshop at Royal Botanical Gardens

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    We help others learn about

    biodiversity every day, even if we

    don’t call it that…

    RBG Staff training volunteers about traditional

    European medicinal plants.

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    Development of Botanical Gardens

    • 16th Century: “Age of Exploration” received plants; also for medical


    • 17th and 18th Centuries: Research functions were elaborated

    • 19th Century: Some opened to public visitation

    • 20th Century: Many created as civil amenity, facilities at

    universities Tanks of aquatic plants and the "Goethe Palm" greenhouse, Orto Botanico du

    Padua, Italy. Photograph in Public

    Domain via Wikimedia

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    Wyse Jackson, P. S . (1999) Experimentation on a Large Scale - An Analysis of the

    Holdings and Resources of Botanic Gardens. BGCNews Vol 3 (3) December 1999.

    Botanic Gardens Conservation International, U.K., Pg. 27.

    “Botanic gardens are institutions holding

    documented collections of living plants for the

    purposes of scientific research, conservation,

    display and education.”

    National Botanic Garden, Dublin, Ireland

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    Acknowledging Historic Botanical Gardens Issues

    • Some botanical gardens have been involved in appropriation of

    traditional and Indigenous

    knowledge and plants

    • Some botanical gardens have been sources of introduction of

    invasive species

    Dog Strangling Vine, an escapee from cultivation

    in Ontario

    Photograph by Epibase - Own work, CC BY 3.0,


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    Botanical Gardens and Related Institutions World

    Wide: 3,531 as of November 2018

    Data source: Table 3, International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in

    Conservation, 2nd Ed. BGCI. 2012.












    Europe North America

    Asia South America

    Africa and Indian Ocean

    Australia and the Pacific

    Russian Federation

    Central America and Caribbean

    Middle East Central Asia

    Global Distribution of Botanic Gardens as of 2012

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    Botanical Gardens’ Collections World Wide:

    Conservation and Education Resource

    • 1,401,239 collection records; 550,407 taxa

    • at 1,103 contributing institutions

    • 16,802 taxa with IUCN Red-List rating above Least Concern

    • 36 Extinct in the Wild

    • 2,602 Critically Endangered

    Data source: BGCI GardenSearch Database. Accessed 13 Nov


    Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

    Richmond, UK

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    Botanical Gardens Education among 160 Public

    Gardens in North America

    Formal Instruction (curriculum-based and linked to

    classroom programming):

    • K-Grade 5: 656,433 learners

    • Grades 6-8: 89,295 learners

    • Grades 9-12: 46,715 learners

    • Adult, College and University Level: 22,128 learners

    Data source: APGA 2015 Benchmarking Survey

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    Botanical Gardens Education in North America

    Informal Instruction (differently-structured; interest-driven):

    • K-Grade 12: 423,278 learners

    • Total Children’s Education: 1.135 million learners

    • Informal Adult Education: 324,819 learners


    • Children’s Education: 1.135 million learners

    • Total Adult Education: 364,947 Students

    Data source: APGA 2015 Benchmarking Survey

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    Educational Resources within Botanical Gardens

    • Expert Staff (often including professional


    • Living Plan