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Last updated: 8 May 2013

EuroGard VI - European Botanic Gardens in a Changing World

The aim of EUROGARD VI was to bring together best practices and theory in order to:

  • Promote effective action by botanic gardens for plant conservation.
  • Strengthen the links between botanic gardens, research institutes, conservation networks and other stakeholders.
  • Enhance botanic gardens as centres for sustainability, human well-being, environmental awareness and protection.
The United Nations has declared the decade, 2011-2020, the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. This Congress was an opportunity for botanic gardens to demonstrate their contributions to this important international initiative. A key feature of the congress was incorporating theory into practice and presentations show cased approaches, tools and research that help us to confront the challenges of biodiversity loss in a changing world. Mitigation methods concerning in situ and ex situ conservation actions were presented, as well as, effective networking practices that allow us to respond efficiently to the challenging targets of the European and Global Strategies for Plant Conservation.

The Congress also aimed to highlight the important relationships that exist between people and plants, and through this, link the work of botanic gardens to the achievement of the all important Millennium Development Goals.


1. Global and European Strategies for Plant Conservation for 2011-2020: ?he Role of Botanic Gardens

Sara Oldfield, Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, UK
Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson, President, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA

How to monitor the progress and assess the deliverables of the Global and European Strategies for Plant Conservation (GSPC/ESPC)? Which actions should botanic gardens develop in order to implement the targets of GSPC and ESPC? Are there new steps and challenges for plant conservation? What should be the role of botanic gardens with respect to the new Global Strategy for Plant Conservation 2011-2020? Should the role of botanic gardens be redefined in the age of biodiversity crisis? How could effective links between ex situ and in situ plant conservation be strengthened? What are the priorities and key-areas for plant conservation?

What are the challenges for botanic gardens concerning biodiversity hotspots? How should the threats and levels of risk for species and populations be assessed? What should be the policy of botanic gardens with respect to the introduction of invasive, alien species? How can botanic gardens participate in allaying the effects of climate change?

2. Strengthening Networks for People, Plants and Botanic Gardens

Professor Jose-Antonio Fernandez-Perez, Department of Biotechnology, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

How can joint actions and co-operations between botanic gardens be developed in order to combat biodiversity loss? How could new technologies be used in the generation of collaborative knowledge? Can new web-based platforms for capacity building and best practices standardization and sharing be developed? How can examples of cluster development-joint actions of interconnected partners (Botanic Gardens, Research Institutes, businesses, suppliers) be used to gain a competitive advantage nationally and globally, with the aim of developing co-operative programmes with different partners-stakeholders at a national and international level? How can local communities be linked with volunteers and funding in order to support conservation initiatives? How can the links between conservation, research and education be strengthened?

3. Plants and People: From Myth, History and Art to Science and Culture

Professor Stella Kokkini, School of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Assistant Professor Soultana-Maria Valamoti, Department of Archaeology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Professor Dimitris Tzanoudakis, Department of Biology, University of Patras, Greece

How have the relationships between people, cultures and the uses of plants (foods, medicines, cosmetics) through the centuries shaped the history of primitive and advanced cultures? How have the medicinal applications and the traditional uses of plants in ancient and contemporary times been monitored and recorded and how is this knowledge significant in the modern world? How should the role of plants in food and nutrition be evaluated in a changing world? How has Archaeology played a role in discovering the origins of agriculture? How can the identification of landraces and the ancestors of contemporary crops help in a world of climate change? Can Archaeology and historical texts be used to explore the impacts of anthropogenic activity in the past on the environment? Can plant mythology and art be used to raise public awareness regarding plant biodiversity and conservation? How are plant secondary metabolites (e.g. hallucinatory drugs, essential oils, poisons) linked with human cultures, their traditions, rituals, the supernatural and ways of life? Can Formal Gardens be considered as designs, art or as a rearrangement of biodiversity? How are plants linked to cultural heritage, folklore, symbolism and art?

4. Consider Globally, Act Locally: Experiences in Addressing a Changing Environment

Professor Stephen Blackmore, Regius Keeper, Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh, UK
Professor Costas Thanos, Department of Botany, Faculty of Biology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

How can new approaches and methods for the management of plant diversity research be implemented? How can horticulture tools for the management of plant species under conservation be improved? How can innovative technologies help in plant management? Can new approaches for ex situ plant conservation be developed? Should the practices for the reintroduction of plant species into the wild be reassessed? How can Access and Benefit Sharing and Fair-Trade be applied to plant resources? How can botanic gardens promote and implement “Green” practices? How can the impact of biodiversity loss on human wellbeing be determined and evaluated? How can conservation methods and the status of economically and socially important plants be promoted? Can case studies of the evaluation and commercial exploitation of local plants and their products be implemented globally? Does plant diversity play a role in human nutrition? How to give emphasis to the evaluation of local and regional plants (e.g. aromatic, medicinal) for the promotion and the demonstration of excellence of specialised local products? Can the ornamental horticulture industry be used to highlight plant diversity? Which plants should be utilized in landscaping and green roofs with respect to climate change? Can plant diversity be part of alternative forms of tourism?