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Department of Plant Sciences

Botanic gardens 'key to saving plants'

A paper from the Brockington Lab published in Nature Plants has quantified how much diversity is conserved across the world’s botanic gardens. They found that botanic gardens manage at least 105,634 species, equating to 30% of all plant species, and conserve over 41% of known threatened species. But also reveal that botanic gardens are disproportionately temperate, with 93% of species held in the northern hemisphere. Consequently, an estimated 76% of species absent from living collections are tropical in origin. Furthermore bias ensures that over 50% of vascular genera, but barely 5% of non-vascular genera, are conserved ex-situ. While botanic gardens are discernibly responding to the threat of species extinction, just 10% of network capacity is devoted to threatened species. They conclude that botanic gardens play a fundamental role in plant conservation, but identify actions to enhance future conservation of biodiversity.

Mounce R, Smith P, Brockington S. (2017) Ex situ conservation of plant diversity in the world's botanic gardens (2017) Nature Plants. DOI:10.1038/s41477-017-0019-3