News Published: 15 February 2024

Funds to Preserve Global Plant Biodiversity Awarded to Five Botanic Gardens

The Global Genome Initiative for Gardens (GGI-Gardens), Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), BGCI-US, and the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) are pleased to announce five awards to botanic gardens and arboreta in five countries to collect and conserve plant diversity. The GGI-Gardens Awards Program supports activities to preserve Earth’s genomic biodiversity of plants through sampling of living collections maintained at botanic gardens around the world.

The awardees will collect genome-quality plant tissue samples from living plant collections as well as wild populations and preserve them in Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN) biobanks, making them accessible to researchers around the world. Priority was given to awardees that can collect unique families and genera of vascular plants not yet represented in GGBN biorepositories. The supported projects will sample from a wide range of species, including the critically endangered Gigasiphon macrosiphon endemic to Kenya and Tanzania, Aspidosperma polyneuron found in the seasonally dry tropical forests of South America. One awarded project will include the first documented conservation collection of plants endemic to the Andaman Islands, India.

This is the fourth year of the GGI-Gardens Awards Program, which has supported 36 projects by 30 gardens in 21 countries that have collected more than 15,000 voucher specimens.

“The high quality of proposals submitted to this award program continues to impress the entire GGI-Gardens community,” Dr. Morgan Gostel, Director of GGI-Gardens and Research Botanist at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), noted. “These awards and the work they are supporting are a testament to the central role botanic gardens play in conserving and understanding plant genomic diversity worldwide.”

“BGCI views our partnership with GGI-Gardens, BGCI-US, and the United States Botanic Garden as invaluable for facilitating conservation action by botanic gardens around the world,” said Dr. Paul Smith, Secretary General of BGCI. “The work accomplished has filled important gaps in botanical genomic resources available for science and provides critical support for preserving and understanding plant diversity.”

“This international collaboration supports local gardens preserving plants in their collections for conservation and research, ensuring the valuable germplasm they steward is available to science for decades to come,” said Dr. Susan K. Pell, Executive Director of the USBG. “We are proud to continue our collaboration with GGI-Gardens, BGCI-US, and BGCI in support of this important work in the face of habitat loss and climate change.”

Applications were evaluated on institutional capacity, collection scope and genomic novelty, best practices, policies and biodiversity standards, efficiency, and broader conservation impacts.

The five awards, totaling nearly USD $22,000, were made possible by GGI-Gardens, BGCI-US, and the USBG, and are administered through BGCI’s Global Botanic Garden Fund. Award recipients will carry out the collection activities and finalize projects by the end of 2025. More information on the awarded projects will be provided throughout the year ahead.

The recipients of the 2024 Awards Program grants are:

 

Institution (Alphabetical) Country
Cartagena Botanical Garden Colombia
Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute India
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden South Africa
Mandhari Plants & Designs / Gede Tropical Gardens & Nursery Kenya
National Herbarium of Rwanda, CoEB, University of Rwanda Rwanda