The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) has announced that it has named Dr. Paul Smith as the 2016 recipient of the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration. The organization recognized Dr. Smith for a career marked by exploration and conservation of tropical plants, as well as the pivotal role he played in advancing the Millennium Seed Bank as the world’s largest single plant exploration and seed collecting program.
The medal will be presented at a February 5 invitation-only black-tie dinner at The Kampong, NTBG’s garden in Coconut Grove, Florida. The following day Dr. Smith will present a public lecture entitled “Keeping Every Cog and Wheel: Why, Where, and How?” In his public presentation, he will discuss how botanic gardens and arboreta should collect, conserve, and cultivate all plant diversity for future generations. To register for the public lecture, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Born in London in 1964, Dr. Smith was raised in Zambia, Swaziland, and Botswana, and earned his doctorate in the bioremediation of contaminated soils from the University of Kent. With nearly 30 years of experience collecting and naming plants in the Old World tropics, he has contributed to numerous ecological surveys, plant inventories, vegetation mapping projects, environmental impact assessments, and seed conservation efforts, as well as national park planning and helping to develop responsible strategies for ecotourism in Africa.
Joining the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 1997, Smith headed Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank from 2005-2014, overseeing the collection and conservation of seeds from more than 25,000 plant species and achieving the milestone of securing seeds from 10 percent of the world’s wild plants. In February 2015 he was appointed Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International, a global coalition of over 500 plant conservation- and education-focused botanical gardens in nearly 100 countries.
“Paul embodies the spirit of exploration as exemplified by David Fairchild.” said NTBG’s President and CEO Chipper Wichman. “He is without a doubt someone who has moved the needle in plant conservation in a changing world and we are more than pleased to honor him in this way.”