Monday, September 24, 2018

botanic gardens

We're used to the thought that animal conservation is by and large a losing battle. Animal species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate in this man-made 6th mass extinction. Conservation efforts can save a few and slow the rate a little bit, but there is no chance whatsoever of stopping extinctions altogether.

It hadn't occurred to me that the situation is different for plants. We can preserve their seeds and grow them in botanic gardens, which led the authors of a paper I read recently to the claim that there is no reason any plant should go extinct. Which is to say, we could save every plant known to science if we put our mind to it. This hopeful message inspired me to write a feature about botanic gardens and their role in conservation (it also fills a gap as I have features about zoos and herbaria in my back catalogue already!), which is out now:

Can botanic gardens save all plants?

Current Biology
Volume 28, Issue 18, 24 September 2018, Pages R1075-R1078

Restricted access to full text and PDF download

(will become open access one year after publication)

Own photo - some cannabis plants seen at Chelsea Physic Garden

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