By Danielle L. Green, Director of Gardens and Grounds, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens
Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend the annual meeting for the Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) hosted by Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) in Fort Worth, Texas. This meeting brought together botanists, horticulturists, ecologists, and researchers from all over the US to report on and discuss saving plants from extinction. Attendees included botanical gardens, universities, arboreta, state and federal agencies, and a few zoos.
The CPC was founded in 1984 and exists to ensure stewardship of imperiled native plants. Headquartered at San Diego Zoo Global, CPC provides guidelines and best practices to support species survival in the wild. Participating institutions have committed to support the National Collection of Endangered Plants through ex situ conservation, research to support the vision and mission of CPC. Additionally, CPC participating institutions work to promote ex situ conservation of plants, advocate for living collections as safeguards, and communicate scientific understanding of plants and their role in global health.
Network partners are organizations that support the work of CPC and promote plant conservation. The AZH board of directors was approached by CPC President and CEO John Clark last year about joining CPC as a network partner.
The two day meeting was packed with five minute “lightning” talks on research projects, web tools for plant conservation, long-term seed storage options, collection management, and many other topics. The break-out session I participated in focused on “10X thinking” to answer the question “How can CPC increase our ability to save plants?” Using this strategy to think bigger and outside the usual box was helpful to come up with some interesting strategies.
The tour of BRIT was amazing. BRIT holds over one million herbarium specimens in an LEED certified space that is open to the public. The library is home to a beautiful collection of old books and illustrations of plants dating back to the 1500s. It was a great experience to meet new professionals in plant conservation and reconnect with former colleagues and I am excited about the opportunities ahead to promote and save rare plants from extinction.