The papers included in this special issue are mostly based on presentations made at the IABG international conference held at Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, China, November 2016, which addressed the roles that botanic gardens, both in China and elsewhere, can play in national biodiversity conservation strategies, such as maintaining and conserving plant material ex situ and in contributing to the recovery of threatened plant species, reintroductions and other translocations. It also looked beyond botanic gardens and addressed how to work and plan much more closely with other practitioners.