Over one-third of all known plants face extinction. Humans are the main cause of extinction and the principle threat to species at risk. Habitat loss is the leading threat, along with introduction of alien species (this can happen deliberately in the search for pretty plants for our gardens, or unintentionally by organisms “hitch-hiking” in containers, ships, cars, or soil), over-exploitation, pollution and disease, and human-induced climate change (which has many effects, from altering migratory species patterns to causing coral bleaching).
Our youngest daughter Melanie is the conservation horticulturalist in charge of the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Through her work with native plants, I have learned about the great work done internationally on reversing this trend by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI).
BGCI represents over 700 members – mostly botanic gardens – in 118 countries. It supports and is involved in the development and implementation of global policy around plant conservation – specifically the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), which it is lobbying all levels of government around the world to write into law. Individuals, businesses and non-profits can pledge their support for the GSPC by signing on at the Plants for the Planet website.
BGCI also maintains a unique PlantSearch database that allows you to search for and locate rare and threatened plant species in cultivation around the world. The database is compiled from lists of living collections submitted to BGCI by the world’s botanic gardens and includes over 575,000 records.
This is the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity, so now is a great time to learn more about the importance of plants and the ecosystem services they provide for all life on earth, and to ensure their conservation.
Natural Life Magazine has published a number of articles in the past about plant conservation and biodiversity. You can find links to some of them at our Organic Gardening article archive index. And you can read every issue as far back as 2003 by taking out a digital subscription.