Botanical gardens and conservation
A botanical garden
According to the definition of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) in the International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation (IABGC) (2000), “botanic gardens are institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education.”
A botanical garden must be a public institution committed to long-term maintenance of its collections.
A private garden, even if it is open to the public, is not generally considered a botanical garden, as this commitment is not certain and the garden’s vocation may change radically if the owner changes.
Even if it is public, it is in a garden’s best interest to have a clear mission and specific development plan to guide its administrators, whoever they may be.
Botanical gardens should always have complete documentation of their collections, control over plants collected and demonstrate responsible management of their collections.
Well documented collections allow botanical gardens to support botanists and other scientists by providing documentation and resources for research.
Botanical gardens have three main objectives:
The first and best known objective is recreation. Exhibitions, plant sales, picnics under the trees and relaxing in a natural environment are some of the possibilities that botanical gardens offer both residents and tourists.
The second very important objective of botanical gardens is education. This includes summer camps for kids, school group tours, interpretation, classes and seminars as well as publications and other ways of sharing information between botanical gardens and horticulture and botany professionals.
Finally, gardens have a scientific objective. Gardens have always studied botany, taxonomy and systematics. Today, fields of study are even broader, from molecular research in the lab to ecological field woork. Conservation and studies of local plants should also be emphasized.
Certain institutions are called botanical gardens for historical reasons and their objectives are mainly recreational, but there are also many gardens that are currently reviewing their mission and becoming gardens that are active in education, research and conservation.
We use the term "botanical garden” inclusively to mean arboretums and any other garden that specializes in growing a specific type of plant.