How much of our native plant diversity is currently safeguarded in the collections of public gardens? An initiative currently underway by Botanic Garden Conservation International (BGCI) aims to find out.
In 2010, BGCI is partnering with the Arnold Arboretum and the United States Botanic Garden to conduct the North American Collections Assessment, an effort to assemble the first comprehensive analysis of all conservation-status plant material currently cultivated by public gardens in North America. Since more than a third of Earth’s plant species are threatened with extinction, the project will broadly document the collective conservation efforts employed by North American botanic gardens and arboreta and instigate plans to increase the number of species conserved across the continent.
Led by Abby Hird, currently with BGCI-US and formerly a Putnam research fellow at the Arboretum, the collections analysis will be centered on BGCI’s online PlantSearch database, the only global database of plants in cultivation. Through PlantSearch, the data will enable participating gardens to evaluate the scope and value of their threatened-species collections, identify gaps, and prioritize future conservation efforts, while connecting institutional plant collections data to a botanical network for use in research and conservation at a global scale.
You can read more project details at Make Your Collections Count.