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Action Plan for Botanic Gardens in the European Union
Edited and compiled by Judith Cheney, Joaquin Navarrete Navarro and Peter Wyse Jackson for the European Botanic Gardens Consortium. (2000).

E. Networking and Co-operation
Chapter contributed by Jan Rammeloo, with Judith Cheney

Botanic gardens in Europe are diverse in size, age, resources and climate. On the whole, they have not in the past developed a common profile; but times have changed and there is now a shared international agenda for botanic gardens and a spirit of co-operation. Networking has become crucial for botanic gardens to strengthen their position in a competitive environment. This Action Plan is the basis of a common mission for EU botanic gardens. Implementing it requires organised collaboration that can only be realised by networking. Details of existing national networks in Europe are given on this page

Responsibilities and opportunities in networking
Networks have a common agenda in response to national and international obligations and commitments. Networks provide a forum for members to exchange ideas and information, and for discussion and debate on matters of common interest. They can be an efficient and economic means of bringing people together for joint training and research initiatives, making the best use of the combined resources. Networking can be effective at different levels, by botanic gardens working locally with other organisations in their area; regionally or nationally; with other countries in Europe, responding to EU initiatives; and internationally, in response to a global agenda, particularly on such issues as sustainable development, environmental education and conservation.

In all such networks, botanic gardens gain from working not only with other botanic gardens and arboreta, but also with other local, national or international institutions and networks, such as governments, museums, national parks, wildlife groups, gardens, horticultural societies, commercial growers, the media, tourist authorities, and many other groups mentioned elsewhere in this Action Plan. In this way, they can demonstrate the relevance of their roles in research, science, heritage, conservation, education and implementing legislation; and their contributions to local, national and international agendas, Networking with other networks can lead to joint conferences and projects, combining the expertise and resources of the networks concerned and providing botanic gardens with opportunities to explain their roles to new audiences. The aims and objectives of each network need to be clearly stated, to avoid too much overlap in effort; to maximise the use of resources, and to strike a balance between talking about issues and taking action on them.

Develop a network for scientific research and horticultural activities

Many botanic gardens carry out scientific research, but often in relative isolation. There is considerable scope for collaboration and networking, in particular for comparing results. See also Objective Al.

In botanic garden horticulture, one of the major weaknesses is the lack of media for the exchange of horticultural information. The development of electronic or traditional publications on botanic garden horticulture should be given high priority. Links and interaction with organisations of commercial growers should be sought and strengthened. EU botanic gardens should endeavour to promote the application of high quality, scientific horticulture to the management of their living collections.

To achieve Objective E1, EU botanic gardens should:

in implementing scientific research

  • develop national and international partnerships amongst themselves and with universities and other research centres to enable them to participate in the application of modern molecular techniques in botany and, in particular, to the problems of biodiversity conservation
  • strengthen their links to national and international governmental and non-governmental bodies to provide expertise and knowledge on plant conservation
in conservation science
  • apply their networks to meeting goals in conservation resarch, particularly towards meeting the requirements of the CBD
  • as part of their contribution to EU conservation programmes, establish co-ordinated European plant conservation science databases
  • create a network of reference collections for the scientific study of rare and endangered plant species
  • within a co-ordinated programme, set up a network of wild germplasm banks to cover as wide a range as possible of the genetic diversity of European threatened plant species
  • co-operate with locally based conservation agencies, universities and other interested parties to establish scientifically based recovery programmes for the threatened species in their area of influence
in horticultural science
  • encourage contacts and exchange between their scientific and horticultural staff
  • organise meetings and workshops at both national and EU levels on the application of scientific horticulture to the management of their living collections
  • establish contacts with national organisations of commercial growers to improve communication on horticultural and scientific aspects of plant cultivation
  • establish an effective means of publication and exchange of botanic garden horticultural information, especially when this relates to the cultivation and propagation of rare or threatened European taxa.
Develop and strengthen networks to improve conservation of diversity

Botanic gardens have, traditionally been repositories for the ex situ maintenance of rare and threatened species and between them they have in their living collections the largest array of plant diversity in cultivation (WRI, IUCN & UNEP, 1992: Global Biodiversity Strategy. World Resources Institute, Washington).

European gardens hold a large proportion of this wealth of plants and it gives them enormous potential as botanical resource centres both within the EU and elsewhere.

Many of them are already involved in ex situ conservation projects, including growing population samples of living plants, germplasm banks (usually in the form of low-temperature seed storage) and the micropropagation of endangered species. These projects, however, are generally not part of a co-ordinated effort to conserve Europe’s threatened plants and rarely take into account conservation priorities on a national, regional or EU scale. They need to be part of a planned, integrated strategy for ex situ and in situ conservation of species and ecosystems.

In situ conservation activities are likely to involve close co-operation with land management agencies and state conservation authorities: botanic gardens have traditionally developed a suite of skills that would make such collaboration desirable; these include taxonomy and plant identification, propagation, and knowledge of reproductive systems in plants.

Plant conservation networks should, where appropriate, include private plant collections of horticultural or conservation value, natural history museums, nature parks and natural history organisations as well as botanic gardens.

To achieve Objective E2, EU botanic gardens should:

  • participate in and be active members of such network organisations as Botanic Gardens Conservation International, established to promote biodiversity conservation
  • develop conservation programmes in collaboration with the activities of NGOs, state conservation and development agencies, universities and appropriate international agencies to ensure in situ conservation and assessment
  • develop research programmes and recovery plans in collaboration with national land and wildlife protection agencies, NGOs and universities, to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of plant resources
  • establish links with appropriate development projects and agencies, provide technical assistance for efforts to protect the natural environment to promote biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of plant resources
Develop and strengthen national networks to improve education by BGs

Many botanic gardens run a public education programme, but are not necessarily closely associated with universities or educational organisations. Botanic garden education can be developed more effectively through such networking (see also Objective D1).

To achieve Objective E3, EU botanic gardens should:

  • establish formal and informal links with national and local education authorities and keep up to date with national and European education policy, to raise the status of education in botanic gardens (see also Objective D8)
  • establish an education network to:
    • facilitate the exchange of educational resources and information between botanic gardens and with BGCI, by means of publications, meetings, electronic media and in other forms
    • produce joint educational materials
    • develop an integrated education strategy for European botanic gardens based on the recommendations of this Action Plan
    • promote collaborative exchange programmes for education staff in botanic gardens throughout Europe
    • run practical training courses in education for staff in European botanic gardens
    • develop novel educational uses of botanic garden resources
    • raise the status of education (see Objective D8)
  • develop links between botanic gardens and decision-makers in education; education officers in botanic gardens should establish links with the state education system to explore how the garden could support development of education curriculum content and encourage plant-based environmental education
  • work closely with other organisations involved in environmental education; and develop links with other in situ and ex situ conservation groups (e.g. museums, zoos, national parks, wildlife trusts, conservation societies and other groups that work with plants), to promote plant-based environmental education.
Develop closer networking to promote staff training in BGs

See Case Studies 18-22. To achieve objective E4, EU botanic gardens should:
  • organise regional workshops, Professional development and national co-ordination will be most effectively implemented via the regional networks
  • develop policies for staff exchange
Participate in and form local networks

There is much to be gained from forming local networks to communicate and work with others in the local community. Local networks are often informal, members may come and go, in response to particular local circumstances or occasions. They often attract interest from local media and are thus particularly effective for publicity and public relations for botanic gardens. Groups of Friends of Botanic Gardens often have contacts that can be used for the benefit of their hast gardens. Such groups include people from many occupations, who may have skills, time and influence not available within the staff of botanic ens; as long as there is close liaison with the garden and a clear understanding of their roles, they can act as ambassadors for the garden, disseminating messages, making contacts and fostering much goodwill in the local community.

To achieve Objective E5, EU botanic gardens should:

  • foster links with their local communities by participating in existing local networks
  • contact people in local institution e.g. museums, tourist and heritage authorities, horticultural societies, community groups, universities, research establishments, local governments, the media, on matters of common interest
  • involve their Friends’ org ions and support groups in making contacts, publicising their aims and fostering goodwill in the local community.
Work together internationally

International organisations have to build up a network. The direct membership or affiliation of botanic gardens to an international organisation is the best way of developing a good network (see Case Studies 15-17).

National networks should develop close partnerships with international organisations and network bodies in other countries. Electronic networks can also be established and are often very effective means of exchanging information.

It is likely that in an international context this will become more and more important, although remaining complementary to the other components of an effective network.

To achieve Objective E6, EU botanic gardens should:

  • join and become active members of international botanic garden organisations, such as BGCI and IABG and important electronic networks of botanic gardens
  • support national networking between national bodies and other national networks in the EU and elsewhere in the world
  • encourage and enable staff at all levels to attend national and international conferences.
Develop an efficient network

To be effective, a network needs commitment and support from members; good communication (increasingly by electronic means such as bulletin boards and web pages); an organised structure run professionally; to provide information for its members on decisions to be taken; consensus (network partners have to realise that personal aims and priorities are not necessarily those of the network); and motivation to encourage members to take on new responsibilities.

To achieve Objective E7, EU botanic gardens should:

  • ensure that network organisations have clear and well-understood sets of objectives, missions and action plans
  • use their networks to provide a forum for members of staff at all levels, gardeners, botanical and horticultural staff, managers and directors, so that all can meet together and become involved in the network, helping to break down any existing barriers between different kinds of staff
  • organise talks, workshops, meetings and training sessions open to staff members at all levels
  • foster goodwill and a spirit of co-operation in the network between members, recognising their contributions at all levels and convincing them of the value of participating
  • facilitate communication between and disseminate information about the network’s activities between and within its membership (institutional and individual)
  • aim to set up a permanent secretariat and resource centre to run the network and ensure that sufficient resources are accessed to enable it to achieve its mission
  • organise regular meetings to review aims and objectives and progress in achieving them
  • organise exchanges and working visits between members of staff within and between botanic gardens and other institutions, nationally and internationally
  • use networks to raise awareness of the importance of botanic gardens in a national and international context.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI)
In 1987, BGCI was founded to link botanic gardens as a co-operating global network for effective plant conservation. It now includes over 500 member institutions in 110 countries, working together to implement a worldwide Botanic Gardens ’ Conservation Strategy.
BGCI provides technical guidance, data and support for botanic gardens worldwide. It has a wide range of activities and has organised major meetings, workshops and training courses, such as a series of International Botanic Gardens Congresses and training courses in many countries. BGCI has helped to create or strengthen national and regional networks of gardens in many parts of the world, such as Australia, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia, to focus their efforts on plant conservation in new co-operative partnerships.
BGCI has developed a computer database on the rare plants in over 350 institutions to bring worldwide coordination to the individual efforts of each garden. It has helped to create plans for new gardens or projects in many countries, such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Russia, St Vincent, the UK and Vietnam.
BGCI publications, such as the regular Botanic Gardens Conservation News and the education magazine Roots are important means for those working in botanic gardens to share experience and information. Technical publications have been prepared, to guide conservationists on such subjects as conservation techniques; illegal rare-plant trade; recording plant data on computers; re-introductions to the wild and other subjects.
BGCI education work has become an important means of enhancing the role of gardens in many countries in environmental education and awareness and it has produced and distributed a wide range of new educational materials, such as videos, a slide pack, posters and newsletters, in several languages. BGCI has a support body, the Plant Charter Group, to focus new attention from the business community on the importance of plants and to develop partnerships for plant conservation projects. BGCI has regional offices in the Netherlands and Spain, as well as in other non-European countries, including Russia and the USA. Its head office is in the UK.

The BGCI/IABG European Botanic Gardens Consortium
This body was created by BGCI and IABG in 1994 to plan Europe-wide initiatives for botanic gardens. The Consortium has met twice a year since 1994 and organised EuroGard, the first European botanic garden conference, held in Edinburgh in 1997, at which ideas for an Action Plan for EU botanic gardens were presented and discussed.
A major concern of the Consortium has been to raise the profile of botanic gardens within the EU and promote wider recognition of their role, importance, potential and programmes , and thereby to attract new resources in support of their actions. It has also been very active in promoting links with the European Commission, to attract greater recognition and resources for botanic garden programmes from the Commission; several meeting have been held with European Commissioners and their staff and with European Parliamentarians in several countries.
One of the initiatives that has been extensively discussed by the Consortium is the launch of a new initiative to help co-ordinate and give new impetus to plant conservation actions by botanic gardens in Europe. Members of the Consortium are elected by the national network organisations in the EU. A secretariat for the Consortium is provided by BGCI.

International Association of Botanical Gardens (IABG)
In 1954, the IABG was established as the first global network organisation for botanic gardens and arboreta. The aims of IABG are to:
  • promote international co-operation between botanic gardens, arboreta and similar institutes maintaining scientific collection of living plants
  • promote the study of taxonomy of plants to benefit the world community
  • promote documentation and exchange of information, living plants and specimens between botanic gardens and similar institutes
  • promote the conservation of plants through cultivation and other means within botanic gardens and similar institutes
  • promote the introduction to cultivation of appropriate plants of benefit to the community
  • promote habitat conservation by co-operation between IABG and other relevant bodies
  • promote horticulture as an art and science.
The aims of IABG are pursued through publications, committee work, meetings, symposia and contact through regionally autonomous groups represented on the IABG Council.
The IABG has regional divisions in Europe, Ibero-Macaronesia, Latin America, Australasia and East Asia, with AABGA providing a corresponding service to institutions in North America.

Network of Italian Botanic Gardens
The Working Group for Botanic Gardens and Historic Gardens of the Italian Botanical Society (IBS) is responsible for the co-ordination of Italian Botanic Gardens. Established about 30 years ago by a group of IBS members involved in the management of botanic gardens, it is committed to maintaining a longstanding tradition of high-quality teaching and study.
Today, there are over 200 personal members and about 50 associated institutions, mostly academic botanic gardens, but also municipality botanic gardens, alpine gardens, arboreta and thematic (phenologic, conservation, medicinal-plant) gardens. The network is managed by a Directing Council, elected every three years by members, and representing a range of institutions, in particular, academic gardens linked to universities, and alpine gardens mainly linked to local administrative bodies or to NGOs.
It promotes and stimulates the action of Italian botanic gardens through technical and scientific meetings on various topics, such as management of botanical collections, didactics, education, garden history and architecture, management of amenity plantations, study and management of historic gardens, conservation of plant diversity, international legislation on plant germplasm exchange and CITES.

German gardens link with NGOs in a nationwide campaign
Many German botanic gardens have joined in a project run by the World Wide Fund for Nature and Natural Resources (WWF) Germany and the Association of German Centres of Environmental Education. The project, called the Ozone Campaign, involves botanic gardens cultivating and supplying schools nationwide with sets of tobacco plants that are ozone sensitive. Students are encouraged to plant them in their school gardens to observe the effects of low-level ozone on the leaves. They learn through hands-on experience and exchange their findings with other schools. Their results are usually displayed in their local botanic gardens. Through this collaboration, students can consider first-hand the effects of traffic pollution on plant life.

Jardins Botaniques de France et des Pays Francophones (JBFPF)
In the early 1970s, an association, now named the JBFPF, was formed in France to foster communication and activities between botanic gardens in French-speaking countries. There are some 160 member gardens: some are associated with universities or research institutes, others are private collections or funded through local town councils.
A primary objective of the JBFPF is to improve the institutional status of botanic gardens in the view of the French public and the various national government departments.
Recently, the JBFPF has developed a series of activities aimed at improving the gardens’ commitment to plant conservation and environmental education through scientifically based collections which are made available fi-eely for exchange between institutions. A garden may be awarded Charter status by the JBFPF if it carries out such activities, and it is reviewed regularly.

PlantNetwork: The Plant Collections Network of Britain and Ireland
PlantNet is a network of botanic gardens, arboreta and other important plant collections in Britain and Ireland. Co-operation and the exchange of information between holders of plant collections is facilitated through seminars, workshops and a regular newsletter. PlantNet, launched in 1996, now has over 100 members and liaises with other networks and organisations in Europe and elsewhere. Two focus groups were set up in 1999 to give practical discussion and training: the PlantNet Tree Forum and the PlantNet Plant Records Group. A database of scientifically based plant collections is being compiled, and the first hard-copy version was published in 1999 as the PlantNet Directory of Botanical Collections in Britain and Ireland.
PlantNetwork aims to:
  • promote the use, for the public benefit, of plant collections in Britain and Ireland and of the education of the public in the use of plant collections for horticulture, science, education and conservation
  • encourage the highest standards of practice in all aspects of the management of plant collections and their conservation for the public benefit.

National Plant Collection Foundation in the Netherlands
In 1988, a number of botanic gardens in the Netherlands decided that the time had come to formalise their existing collaboration and so came to establish the Dutch Botanic Gardens Foundation. Since then they have worked together closely on public relations and education, but mainly on the maintenance of the National Plant Collection, a conglomerate of various plant collections. Each contribution to the National Plant Collection is based on taxonomy and/or geography, and strict standards of maintenance and administration were agreed. This has helped to define the particular geographical or thematic specialisations of each of the botanic gardens in the Netherlands.
In 1998, the members of the Dutch Botanic Gardens Foundation agreed to divide its work between two new organisations: the Dutch Association of Botanic Gardens, constituted to promote and develop a wide range of activities relevant to the mission of 17 Dutch botanic gardens. This Association is constantly enlarging its scope and number of members.
The management of the ever-increasing National Plant Collection now falls under the jurisdiction of the National Plant Collection Foundation, in which all gardens contributing to the Collection collaborate. Membership of this organisation is limited to gardens that are able to contribute collections of high quality in terms of provenance, maintenance and administration of living plant material. Of course, most gardens are active in both organisations.

A meeting for all German-speaking botanic gardens
In 1997, the Verband Botanischer GBrten organised a meeting for all German-speaking botanic gardens entitled Aktueller undpotentieller Beitrag der Botanischen Garten zur Biodiversitatserhaltung (Actual and potential contribution of botanic gardens to the conservation of biodiversity), to discuss the implications of the Convention on Biological Diversity for botanic gardens. At the meeting, an initial attempt was made to draw up a national code of conduct for the exchange of germplasm.

Integrating conservation of endangered plants of the Galapagos: the case of Calandrinia gaiapagosa
The University of Copenhagen Botanic Garden has been involved in several conservation projects. One of these, started in 1994 at the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Galapagos through a joint programme with the Jardin Tropical, Esmeraldas, Ecuador, identified several endemic threatened species, one of which was Calandrinia galapagosa.
With support from the EU, a small population of C. galapagosa threatened by introduced goats was protected by fencing. A dangerous mining operation was stopped and an alternative extraction was proposed. Another population of C. galapagosa was discovered. Some seeds were sent to a seed bank at the Jardin Tropical, Esmeraldas, to serve as a back-up and for investigations on germination, growth requirements etc.
As result of this project, which combined in situ and ex situ measures with a strong public awareness campaign, this endemic species seems to have been saved from the brink of extinction.