Skip to main content

Botanic Gardens as Communicators of Plant Diversity and Conservation

Abstract

This paper presents a unique survey on the role of botanic gardens as educational institutions that communicate plant diversity and conservation. An online survey was created to evaluate the present strategies developed by botanic gardens from all over the world to their visiting public. Dependent on their resources, either human, financial or both, all of them look for the accomplishment of Global Strategy for Plant Conservation’ target 14, promoting education on plants and awareness on human impacts in plant diversity loss. However, an educational group/department is more common in botanic gardens owned by the central government compared to the private, non-profit botanic gardens. The diversity of activities on plant diversity and conservation is influenced by the size and the number of staff in the garden. Only half of the surveyed botanic gardens have rooms exclusively assigned for educational activities and even less have garden spots for the same purpose. Online resources are particularly restricted to North America and Oceania botanic gardens. Although climate change is a brand new subject that could attract public to the garden, the most part of the gardens address biodiversity and plant identification as major themes of communication. Besides species label information and interpretation panels, self-guided visits, guided visits or activities/workshops are the common offers for public attraction. School visitors are still less than half of the total visitors and cover children from 6 to 13 years-old. These follow more guided visits and activities while general public choose self-guided visits.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Abbreviations

BGCI:

Botanic Gardens Conservation International

CBD:

Convention on Biological Diversity

GSPC:

Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

GPPC:

Global Partnership for Plant Conservation

IUCN:

International Union of World Conservation Union (previously called the International Union for Conservation of Nature)

UN:

United Nations

Literature Cited

  1. Ballantyne, R., J. Packer & K. Hughes. 2008. Environmental awareness, interests and motives of botanic gardens visitors: Implications for interpretive practice. Tourism Management 29(3): 439–444.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Barata, R., I. s. Paulino, B. Ribeiro, F. Serralheiro, L. F. Lopes & M. J. Alves. 2012. Digital natural history repositories and tools for inquiry- based education. In: Matos J, Pedro N, Pedro A, Patrocínio P, Piedade J, Lemos S, (Eds). International Congress on ICT and Education Towards Education 20; Lisboa: Instituto de Educação. Universidade de Lisboa; 2012. p. 1468–83.

  3. BGCI. 2012. International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation. Botanic Gardens Conservation International (2nd Edition ed.). Richmond, UK.: Botanic Gardens Conservation International. http://www.bgci.org.

  4. ———. 2014. The Global Network: Mission Statement. http://www.bgci.org/mission.

  5. ———. 2014b. Resource Centre: The History of Botanic Gardens. http://www.bgci.org/resources/history.

  6. ———. 2014c. ROOTS. Transforming audience experience: botanic gardens going digital. Vol 11. https://www.bgci.org/files/Worldwide/Education/Roots_PDFs/Roots%2011.1%20-%20Technologies.pdf. Accessed 24 April 2017.

  7. Blackmore, S., M. Gibby & D. Rae. 2011. Strengthening the scientific contribution of botanic gardens to the second phase of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 166(3): 267–281.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Bowker, R. & A. Jasper. 2007. ‘Don’t forget your leech socks’! Children’s learning during an Eden education officer’s workshop. Research in Science & Technological Education 25(1): 135–150.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Cappelletti, E. & A. Savoia. 2006. Didactics in a botanic garden: garden plans and botanical education in the “horto medicinale” of Padua in the 16th century. A passion for plants: materia medica and botany in scientific networks from the 16th to 18th centuries. Paper presented at the A passion for plants – der Leidenschaft fuer Pflanzen. Materia medica und Botanik in Netzwerken, Marburg.

  10. CBD. 1992. Convention on Biological Diversity: Text and Annexes. Montreal, Canada: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity Retrieved from https://www.cbd.int/doc/legal/cbd-en.pdf.

  11. ———. 2002. Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Montreal. Canada: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity Retrieved from https://www.cbd.int/decisions/cop/?m=cop-06.

  12. Chang, L. S., R. Bisgrove & M. Liao. 2008. Improving educational functions in botanic gardens by employing landscape narratives. Landscape and Urban Planning 86: 233–247.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Conklin, J. & P. Drackett. 2011. A survey method to gauge public interest in programs, activities, and events at Arboreta and Botanic Gardens. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 9(1): 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Connel, J. & D. Meyer. 2004. Modelling the visitor experience in gardens of Great Britain. Current Issues in Tourism 7(3): 183–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Crane, P. R., S. D. Hopper, P. H. Raven & D. W. Stevenson. 2009. Plant science research in botanic gardens. Trends in Plant Sciences 14(11): 575–577.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Crilley, G. & B. Price. 2005. The Adelaide Botanic Gardens visitor service quality survey. Retrieved from Adelaide:

  17. Darwin Edwards, I. 2000. Education by stealth: the subtle art of educating people who didn't come to learn. Roots 20: 37–40.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Dillon, J., M. Rickinson, K. Teamey, M. Morris, M. Choi, D. Sanders & P. Benefield. 2006. The value of outdoor learning: evidence from research in the UK and elsewhere. School Science Review 87(320): 107–111.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Diversity. 2009. The Convention on Biological Diversity Plant Conservation Report: A Review of Progress in Implementing the Global Strategy of Plant Conservation (GSPC). Retrieved from Montreal, Canada

  20. Doyle, D. 2008. Edinburgh doctors and their physic gardens. The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh 38: 361–367.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Elaine, R., V. Asimina, K. Suzanne, W. Julia, D. Justin, B. Gail & B. Costantino. 2014. Strategies for Embedding Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning in Botanic Gardens: Evidence from the Inquire Project. Inquiry-based Learning for Faculty and Institutional Development: A Conceptual and Practical Resource for Educators (Vol. 1, pp. 175–199): Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

  22. Gaio-Oliveira, G. & C. Garcia. 2014. Science Arrives to Schoolyards. El/O Botanico 8: 65–67.

    Google Scholar 

  23. ———, A. R. Barata, N. Carvalho & M. A. Martins-Loução. 2012. Science Teachers’ Continuing Professional Development in Inquiry Based Education on Plant Diversity and Conservation. El/O Botanico 6: 38–39.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Hawkins, B., S. Sharrock & K. Havens. 2008. Plants and climate change: which future? Richmond, UK: Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

  25. He, H. & J. Chen. 2012. Educational and enjoyment benefits of visitor education centers at botanical gardens. Biological Conservation 149: 103–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Heyd, T. 2006. Thinking through Botanic Gardens. Environmental Values 15: 197–212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hwang, G.-J., L.-Y. Chiu & C.-H. Chen. 2015. A contextual game-based learning approach. Computers & Education 81: 13–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Jordan, R., F. Singer, J. Vaughan & A. Berkowitz. 2009. What should every citizen know about ecology? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7(9): 495–500.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kneebone, S. 2006. Education Centre: A global snapshot of botanic garden education provision. Retrieved from http://www.bgci.org/education/global_snapshot_edu_provis/

  30. Krasny, M. E. & K. G. Tidball. 2009. Community gardens as context for science, stewardship and advocacy learning. Cities and the Environment, 2(1), Art. 8, 18pp.

  31. Lewi, H., A. Saniga & W. Smith. 2014. Immersive and temporal experiences in historic landscapes: designing a mobile digital guide for the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Landscape Review 15(1): 4–23.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Lorenzoni, I. & I. H. Langford. 2001. Climate change now and in the future: a mixed methodological study of public perceptions in Norwich (UK). Retrieved from Norwich:

  33. Malone, K. & P. J. Tranter. 2003. School Grounds as Sites for Learning: Making the most of environmental opportunities. Environmental Education Research 9(3): 283–303.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Manifesto, L. 2007. Retrieved from http://www.lotc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/G1.

  35. Martins Loução, M. A., G. Gaio-Oliveira, A. R. Barata, N. Carvalho & A. C. Tavares. 2014. Estratégias para aprendizagem activa. El/O Botanico 8: 68–70.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Martins-Loução, M. A. & G. Gaio-Oliveira. 2016. New Challenges to Promote Botany's Practice Using Botanic Gardens: the Case Study of the Lisbon Botanic Garden. In: A. A. Ansari & S. S. Gill (eds). Plant Biodiversity: Monitoring, Assessment and Conservation. CABI, Wallingford, Oxfordshire.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Martins-Loução, M., G. Gaio-Oliveira, R. Barata & N. Carvalho. 2012. The use of IBSE as a tool for the development of teachers's curriculum: challenges and opportunities offered by LOtC institutions. Pp 2803–2811. In: J. Matos, N. Pedro, A. Pedro, P. Patrocínio, J. Piedade, & S. Lemos (eds). International Congress on ICT and Education Towards Education 20; Lisbon. Instituto de Educação. Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon.

    Google Scholar 

  38. ———, G. Gaio-Oliveira, R. Barata, N. Carvalho & M. Zoccoli. 2013. How can LOtC institutions provide a change in teaching methodology to promote students’ engagement in natural sciences? The Lisbon Botanic Garden as a case study. In: Kapelari S, Jeffreys D, Willison J, Vergou A, Regan E, Dillon J, Bromley G, Bonomi C, editors. Inquire Conference 2013 Raising Standards Through Inquiry: Professional Development in the Natural Environment; London: BGCI. London: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. p. 95–100.

  39. Martins-Loução, M. A., G. Gaio-Oliveira, I. Melo & M. T. Antunes. 2014. The subtle art of attracting people to Lisbon Botanic Garden. ROOTS 11(2): 21–24.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Maunder, M. 2008. Beyound the greenhouse. Nature 455: 596–597.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Miller, B., W. Conway, R. P. Reading, C. Wemmer, D. Wildt, D. Kleiman & M. Hutchins. 2004. Evaluating the Conservation Mission of Zoos, Aquariums, Botanical Gardens, and Natural History Museums Evaluación de la Misión de Conservación de Zoológicos, Acuarios, Jardines Botánicos o Museos de Historia Natural. Conservation Biology 18(1): 86–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Mintz, S. & S. Rode. 1999. More than a walk in the park?: Demonstration carts personalize interpretation. Resources Centre. Retrieved from https://www.bgci.org/education/article/0309/

  43. Passy, R. 2014. School gardens: teaching and learning outside the front door. Education 3–13. International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education 42(1): 23–38.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Powledge, F. 2011. The evolving role of Botanical Gardens. Hedges against extinction, showcases for botany? BioScience 61(10): 743–749.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Rinker, H. B. 2002. The Weight of a Petal: the Value of Botanical Gardens.

  46. Schulman, L. & S. Lehvävirta. 2011. Botanic gardens in the age of climate change. Biodiversity and Conservation 20(2): 217–220.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Sellmann, D. & F. X. Bogner. 2013. Climate change education: quantitatively assessing the impact of a botanical garden as an informal learning environment. Environmental Education Research 19(4): 415–429.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Sharrock, S. (ed). 2011. Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: A Guide to the GSPC. All the targets, objectives and facts. Kew. GSPC. BGCI. UN, UK.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Spence, A., D. Venables, N. Pidgeon, W. Poortinga & C. Demski. 2010. Public Perceptions of Climate Change and Energy Futures in Britain: Summary Findings of a Survey Conducted in January-March 2010. Retrieved from Cardiff:

  50. Stern, M., R. Powell & N. Ardoin. 2008. What difference does it make? Assessing outcomes from participation in a residential environmental education program. The Journal of Environmental Education 39(4): 31–43.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Tampoukou, A., M. Papafotiou, A. Koutsouris & A. T. Paraskevopoulou. 2015. Teachers’ Perceptions οn the Use of Botanic Gardens as a Means of Environmental Education in Schools and the Enhancement of School Student Benefits from Botanic Garden Visits. Landscape Research 40(5): 610–620.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Thuiller, W., S. Lavorel, M. B. Araujo, M. T. Sykes & I. C. Prentice. 2005. Climate change threats to plant diversity in Europe. PNAS 102(23): 8245–8250.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  53. Villagra-Islas, P. 2011. Newer Plant Displays in Botanical Gardens: The Role of Design in Environmental Interpretation. Landscape Research 36(5): 573–597.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Ward, C. D., C. Parker & C. Shackleton. 2010. The use and appreciation of botanical gardens as urban green spaces in South Africa. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 9: 49–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Williams, S., J. Jones, C. Clubbe, S. Sharrock & J. Gibbons. 2012. Why are some biodiversity policies implemented and others ignored? Lessons from the uptake of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation by botanic gardens. Biodiversity Conservation 21: 175–187.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Williams, S. J., J. P. G. Jones, J. M. Gibbons & C. Clubbe. 2015. Botanic gardens can positively influence visitors’ environmental attitudes. Biodiversity and Conservation 24(7): 1609–1620.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Willison, J. 1997. Botanic gardens as agents for social change. Paper presented at the International Botanic Gardens Conservation congress. Conservation into the 21st century, Perth, Australia.

  58. ———. 2006. Education for Sustainable Development: Guidelines for Action in Botanic Gardens. Retrieved from http://www.bgci.org/files/Worldwide/Education/PDFS/education_for_sustainable_development_guidelines_final.pdf

  59. ———, S. Kneebone & G. Bromley. 2006. Implementing Target 14 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: An International Review. Retrieved from London, UK: http://www.bgci.org/files/Worldwide/Education/PDFS/international_review_of_t14.pdf

  60. Wyse, J. P. & K. Kennedy. 2009. The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: a challenge and opportunity for the international community. Trends in Plant Science 14(11): 578–580.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Zhai, J. & J. Dillon. 2014. Communicating science to students: Investigating professional botanic garden educators' talk during guided school visits. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 51(4): 407–429.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

AcknowledgEments

Gisela Gaio-Oliveira acknowledges support from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (SFRH/BPD/65886/2009).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maria Amélia Martins-Loução.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

List of the selected questions used in this manuscript:

Botanic Garden Details

Name of the botanic garden

Year of foundation

What is the botanic garden status?

Private

Private non-profit

Central government

Local government

University

How many people were working in the botanic garden in 2009?

Does the botanic garden have volunteers?

Yes

No

If you replied “yes” to the previous question, how many volunteers collaborated with the botanic garden in 2009?

Botanic Garden General Features

What is the approximate size of the botanic garden’s main features?

Total botanic garden

Class (if applied)

Arboretum (if applied)

Exhibition greenhouse(s) (if applied)

Research greenhouse(s) (if applied)

Nursery (if applied)

What is the total number of plant species present in the botanic garden?

Are all the plant species accessible to the public?

Yes

No

If not, which is the percentage of plant species not accessible to the public?

Is it possible to find throughout the botanic garden any placards/boards with educational information, other than taxonomic data?

Yes

No

Botanic Garden Educational Features

Does the botanic garden have an educational group/department?

Yes

No

If you replied “yes” to the previous question, how many people were working at the educational group/department in 2009 (excluding volunteers)?

Does the botanic garden have rooms exclusively assigned for educational activities?

Yes

No

Does the botanic garden possess any garden spots exclusively assigned for hands-on activities?

Yes

No

To which types of public are the hands-on garden spots reserved? (if applied)?

Kindergarden/Pre-primary (ISCED 0)

Elementary school (ISCED 1) (1–6 years of schooling)

Basic education (ISCED 2) (7–9 years of schooling)

Secondary education (ISCED 3) (10–12 years of schooling)

Post-secondary non tertiary education (ISCED 4)

Tertiary/higher education (ISCED 5 and 6)

General public

Senior public (over 65 years-old)

Does the botanic garden make available to the public hard copies/printed educational material?

Yes

No

Does the botanic garden make available to the public online educational material?

Yes

No

Botanic Garden Educational Activities

What was the total number of visitors of the botanic garden in 2009:

School visitors

General public

Considering the number of school visitors in 2009, how many performed:

Self-guided visits

Guided/exploration tours by garden personnel

Workshops

Considering the number of school visitors performing guided/exploration tours in 2009, how were they distributed by educational levels?

Kindergarden/Pre-primary (ISCED 0)

Elementary school (ISCED 1) (1–6 years of schooling)

Basic education (ISCED 2) (7–9 years of schooling)

Secondary education (ISCED 3) (10–12 years of schooling)

Post-secondary non tertiary education (ISCED 4)

Tertiary/higher education (ISCED 5 and 6)

Considering the number of school visitors performing workshops in 2009, how were they distributed by educational levels?

Kindergarden/Pre-primary (ISCED 0)

Elementary school (ISCED 1) (1–6 years of schooling)

Basic education (ISCED 2) (7–9 years of schooling)

Secondary education (ISCED 3) (10–12 years of schooling)

Post-secondary non tertiary education (ISCED 4)

Tertiary/higher education (ISCED 5 and 6)

Which discussion themes were made available to students during visits/activities offered by the botanic garden in 2009?

Biodiversity

Climate change

Pollution

Organic farming

Ethnobotany

Recycling

Endangered species

Plant identification

Others

Considering the general public that visited the garden in 2009, how many performed:

Self-guided visits

Guided/exploration tours by garden personnel

Workshops

Which discussion themes were made available to the general public during visits/activities offered by the botanic garden in 2009?

Biodiversity

Climate change

Pollution

Organic farming

Ethnobotany

Recycling

Endangered species

Others

Did the botanic garden organise any conferences during 2009?

Yes

No

If you replied “yes” to the previous question, which was the target audience of the conferences?

Kindergarden/Pre-primary (ISCED 0)

Elementary school (ISCED 1) (1–6 years of schooling)

Basic education (ISCED 2) (7–9 years of schooling)

Secondary education (ISCED 3) (10–12 years of schooling)

Post-secondary non tertiary education (ISCED 4)

Tertiary/higher education (ISCED 5 and 6)

General public

Which themes were discussed in the conferences? (if applied)

Biodiversity

Climate change

Pollution

Organic farming

Ethnobotany

Recycling

Endangered species

Others

Did the botanic garden perform any complementary/further education courses in 2009?

Yes

No

If you replied “yes” to the previous question, which was the target audience of the courses?

General public

Teachers/educators

Politicians

Decision makers

Journalists

Others

Which themes were discussed during the courses? (if applied)

Biodiversity

Climate change

Pollution

Organic farming

Ethnobotany

Recycling

Endangered species

Others

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Gaio-Oliveira, G., Delicado, A. & Martins-Loução, M.A. Botanic Gardens as Communicators of Plant Diversity and Conservation. Bot. Rev. 83, 282–302 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12229-017-9186-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Plant conservation
  • Science communication
  • Public awareness
  • Environmental education
  • Public education
  • Global Strategy for Plant Conservation