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  • September 03, 2019 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2019 BIAZA Plant Working Group Conference

    Chester Zoo

    16 – 18 October 2019

    Conference Programme (Draft – titles of presentations to be confirmed)

    Tuesday 15th October 2019



    Icebreaker at The Royal Oak, Faulkner St, Chester


    Day 1 – Wednesday 16th October 2019

    Involvement of Zoo Horticulture in Conservation Projects






    Welcome/BIAZA PWG Update

    Sven Seiffert, Chair BIAZA Plant Working Group,

    Phil Esseen, Chester Zoo



    Delivering Horticultural Workshops in Nepal

    Anna Furse, Chester Zoo



    Site Management for Butterflies at ZSL, London Zoo

    Ben Camps, ZSL






    The North West Rare Plants Initiative – A conservation programme for North-west England

    Josh Styles, NWRPI



    Conservation Risks and Opportunities in Fodder Production

    Eddie Mole, Bristol Zoological Society



    Grassland management for Conservation

    Andrew Harrison, Bristol Zoological Society




    13:30 - 17:00

    Tour of the main Chester Zoo site, including recent developments (Asiatic Lions, Madagascar, Islands)


    Conference Dinner at Chez Jules, Northgate St, Chester

    Day 2 – Thursday, 17th October 2019

    Designing and Implementing Zoo Landscaping on a Small Budget



    Redevelopment of Red panda exhibit at Marwell Zoo

    Lance Ingram, Marwell Zoo



    Title TBC

    Jonathan McLoughlin, Gillespie



    Designing and Planting the Bumblebee Garden at Chester Zoo

    Liz Young, Clive Roe, Chester Zoo






    Undertaking Project Work In-house

    Mark Hargreaves, Chester Zoo



    Use of Plants to meet animal welfare requirements

    Sven Seiffert, ZSL




    Tours of the wider Chester Zoo site



    Visit to Chester Zoo’s Nature Reserve

    Sarah Bird, Helen Bradshaw, Chester Zoo



    Visit to the Plant Project, Nursery and Plant Collections at Chester Zoo



    Visit to Woodside Farm, Chester Zoo’s Green waste recycling centre and browse plantations


    Chester city walk and drink

    Day 3 – Friday 18th October 2019

    Workshop: Practical Exhibit Theming



    Workshop 1 introduction – Working with concrete to theme animal exhibits.



    Practical session – Constructing a themed concrete termite mound






    Workshop 2 introduction – Working with recycled materials to construct informal barriers and fences



    Practical session – constructing a brushwood boma fence and barrier.




    (Please note that this session will be take place outdoors. Workshop participants should bring suitable clothing and footwear).


    To book your place on the conference, please click on the following link…



    We have secured a favourable rate for conference attendees at Chester Court Hotel, on Hoole Road, from £46.80 for a single room and £64.80 for a twin room (per night, bed and breakfast). Contact Chester Court Hotel (info@chestercourthotel.com )

    If you have any queries, please contact Phil Esseen, Curator of Botany and Horticulture at Chester Zoo (p.esseen@chesterzoo.org).

  • August 11, 2019 12:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) supports a variety of different conservation-related initiatives. In addition to donating a portion of zoo ticket sales directly to conservation-related projects, zoo staff are encouraged to actively engage in the conservation of native species and ecosystems. In our case, this meant collaborating with the University of Florida in the hope of helping the 300-plus drastically declining wild bee species native to northern Florida.

    After some research, we were able to come up with a project that fit within our guidelines. The next step was to fill out a conservation proposal application and get the process rolling. The detailed description focused on how this conservation project benefited both institutions and what we hoped it would accomplish. Finally, funds were requested and granted. We began by focusing on the attractiveness of different plant species to native bees in Florida, including plants being sold in big box stores as “pollinator friendly."

    Our research focuses on the bee species found within JZG property. We wanted to record the frequency with which native pollinators visited groups of native and non-native flowers. We then opened the door for staff involvement, no matter what department they worked in, at a level where they could jump right in. This was crucial to the project’s overall success. Participants were excited and eager to help with local conservation. We set up a training meeting and showed them how to monitor species, what to look for, and how to use a Quadrat to record findings within a three-foot-by-three-foot area. Our results will be documented in University of Florida extension publications on the attractiveness of different plant species to native bees in Florida.

    Our results on bee species found within JZG property will be distributed to our staff, and possibly incorporated into signage. This project will provide data specific to JZG that can be used to educate visitors about bee diversity and the plants found on grounds that support these pollinators. The University of Florida will work with the JZG staff to create educational materials that will help visitors learn about the importance of bees and ways that they can support, conserve, or enhance bee populations. Furthermore, this project will provide planting recommendations for the gardens, including any current or future pollinator gardens.

  • August 06, 2019 8:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The call for funding applications for the 2019 BGCI/ArbNet Partnership Program is open! This is a funding opportunity to support the development of international collaborations between gardens and arboreta for the purpose of exchanging skills, resources and expertise to advance tree conservation efforts. Botanical gardens and arboreta play a vital role in studying, collecting and protecting threatened tree diversity around the world. The Partnership Program provides funding (up to $2,500) for collaborative tree conservation projects, with priority given to projects that target biodiversity hotspots and/or capacity building in developing countries. Grant applications must satisfy the following conditions:


    • Focus on tree conservation
    • Involve an international partnership between two botanical institutions
    • Both partners are BGCI members
    • At least one of the two partners is an ArbNet accredited arboretum (accreditation applications will be accepted up to the funding deadline to be considered for this opportunity)


    Partners may apply for BGCI membership and ArbNet accreditation concurrently with submitting a funding proposal. Proposals must be submitted through the BGCI Global Botanic Garden Fund application. Proposals will be reviewed by the ArbNet and BGCI staff. 


    Deadline for funding proposals (and accreditation applications, if applicable) is September 13, 2019

    This is the 3rd Phase of the BGCI/ArbNet Partnership Programme. Learn more about past funded projects here

    Please email, Amy Byrne, Global Trees Conservation Assistant, with any questions. abyrne@mortonarb.org  

  • July 16, 2019 1:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) has granted accreditation to San Diego Zoo Global for its gardens at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the plant conservation work they support at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. The certification recognizes San Diego Zoo Global’s important conservation contribution to the efforts to preserve plant species.

    “We are tremendously honored to be included among the other notable gardens around the world that are preserving endangered plant species for the future,” said Bob Wiese Ph.D., chief life sciences officer, San Diego Zoo Global. “Although our work with endangered animal species often receives more public attention, the incredible dedication of our team of horticulturists is making a difference in our battle to end extinction.”

             BGCI’s certification recognizes not only the beauty and diversity of the curated plant collections of the Zoo and Safari Park but also the tremendous effort that goes into conserving plant species. San Diego Zoo Global’s ongoing plant research programs work to preserve and understand the natural history and genetic diversity of rare plants. San Diego Zoo Global’s restoration of local habitats in San Diego County and seed banking of endangered native California species are a testament to its commitment to conserve critically endangered plant populations, like the torrey pine and San Diego thornmint.

    “Botanic gardens across the world are documenting, understanding, growing and conserving plant diversity,” said Brian Lainoff, Head of Membership Strategy and Services for BGCI. “They are not, however, sufficiently recognised by policymakers and funders. BGCI’s Accreditation Scheme assesses, places a high value, and sets international standards on the unique skills, knowledge and conservation action in botanic gardens.”

    With nearly two million plants cared for at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park combined, San Diego Zoo Global joins other world-class botanical gardens that are accredited by both BGCI and the American Association of Museums (AAM). San Diego Zoo Global’s beautiful and unique gardens display collections of aloes, coral trees, bamboo, acacias, ficus, conifers, palms, cycads, orchids and California native plant species. The botanical collection not only augments the habitats of the animals but also provides an important nutritional resource for them. Additionally, the Zoo and Safari Park also act as “rescue centers” for rare and endangered plant species that have been confiscated from wildlife trafficking, receiving specimens from a variety of sources.

    “When people walk into the San Diego Zoo or the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, they are immediately struck by the beauty of our gardens and natural spaces,” said Stephanie Shigematsu, curator of horticulture for the San Diego Zoo. “Although most people come to our parks to see animals, the plants add a richness and depth to their experience. There are plant species all over the world that are critically endangered and facing extinction—we participate in plant species survival plans, research, and educational outreach that help preserve that botanical wealth for future generations.”

    San Diego Zoo plant collections are highlighted each month on Plant Day, which takes place on the third Friday of each month. On these days, the Zoo offers a number of free plant presentations with horticulture experts. 

    The San Diego Zoo is globally recognized and a San Diego icon, hosting more than 4 million guests each year. At the San Diego Zoo, visitors can watch penguins and sharks swim, observe the behavior of century-old Galápagos tortoises, enjoy the beauty of exotic orchids, marvel at koalas, explore walk-through aviaries filled with the songs and colors of rare birds, and appreciate the power of leopards and jaguars. The San Diego Zoo is also accredited by the American Association of Museums and the Botanic Gardens Conservation International as a Botanical Garden. As visitors discover the rare and endangered species at the San Diego Zoo, they are directly contributing, through admission and on-grounds sales, to the efforts of San Diego Zoo Global, an international nonprofit conservation organization that works to fight extinction through recovery efforts for plants and animals worldwide. To learn more, visitsandiegozoo.org, or connect with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram or YouTube.



  • July 03, 2019 9:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The American Horticultural Society’s National Children & Youth Garden Symposium (www.ahsgardening.org/gardening-programs/youth-gardening/ncygs/2019-ncygs/overview) is a three-day long conference for educators, nonprofit professionals, designers, horticulturalists, and others working directly with children and youth in garden-based settings that will take place on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison in Madison, Wisconsin from July 10 through 13 this year. Partners for the event include Community Groundworks, the Wisconsin School Garden Network, and the UW Madison Environmental Design Laboratory.


    This year’s symposium will explore “green” career resources and innovative sustainable gardening curriculum and practices, and highlight model partnerships for attracting the human, financial, and intellectual capital needed to sustain youth gardening endeavors.

                Attendees at the Symposium will have the opportunity to:

                • participate in almost 50 peer-led educational sessions, including six Seed Your Future-dedicated sessions.

                • hear thought-provoking speakers including Detroit Dirt’s Pashon Murray and Soul Fire Farm’s Amani Olugbala present on current topics including closed-loop waste management and food justice.

                • tour outstanding local sites such as the Madison Children's Museum, Allen Centennial Garden, and the Troy Kids' Garden.

                • meet and connect with colleagues and peers working in the youth gardening sector.

     Registration is available in person at the Pyle Center of the University of Wisconsin, Madison on July 11, 12, and 13: www.ahsgardening.org/gardening-programs/youth-gardening/ncygs/2019-registration-rates. View a detailed schedule: www.ahsgardening.org/gardening-programs/youth-gardening/ncygs/2019-schedule

  • June 16, 2019 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Quercus ajoensis (Ajo oak) and Q. toumeyi (Toumey oak) are native to the southwestern U.S. and both are included on the IUCN Red List; Q. ajoensis is vulnerable, while data about Q. toumeyi are insufficient. For this project, which took place in April 2018, both were assessed for extinction risk. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (HTN) in San Marino, California, obtained a grant from American Public Gardens Association (APGA) to study these two species in collaboration with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) in Tucson, Arizona. The objectives were to scout localities where these species had been observed in the past, confirm or deny their presence in several mountain ranges which are poorly documented, collect acorns or material for micropropagation, and voucher the species at each location. GPS locations of all plants and populations encountered were recorded, measurements and field descriptions of trees were taken, and habitat and associated species were noted. Vouchers were deposited in herbaria at HNT, ASDM, and the U.S. National Arboretum (NA), with Morton Arboretum (MOR) slated to receive a set. Permitting involved the Coronado National Forest (CNF), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

    Quercus ajoensis, a form with smaller leaves, Alamo Canyon © Julie H. Wiens

                Acorns from both species were collected and sent for propagation to HNT, ASDM, Boyce Thompson Arboretum (Superior, Arizona), and Starhill Forest Arboretum in Petersburg, Illinois. The Q. ajoensis acorns, however, began germinating in the collection bags. These were sent to ASDM and sown; seedlings have been distributed to the other three institutions.

                It appears that the U.S. range of pure Q. ajoensis is contracting to just three canyons in the Ajo Mountains in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Oaks from other known locations were either not found or proved to be hybrids with Q. turbinella. Fortunately, the remaining U.S. populations are relatively well protected on public lands. However, recent wildfires and other disasters highlight the vulnerability of being constrained to a small geographic area and underscore the value of collecting and distributing material for ex situ conservation. Unfortunately, oaks are masting species. With improved understanding of the phenology of the species and collaborations with land managers developed through this grant, our capacity to capture acorns during the next masting event is greatly improved. There is a need for similar projects on the Mexican side of the border. An online search of herbarium records lists five localities on the Baja Peninsula, with only two collections this century.

                Our study found Q. toumeyi in ten different mountain ranges throughout Arizona and New Mexico. Populations occur mostly at elevations of 1,500–1,800 m, with lower and upper extremes of 1,207 m and 2,149 m, respectively. In addition, populations of the species exist on protected land in nine of those ranges and these accessions were acquired from each of those ranges. Frequently, it is locally common where it occurs. Although mostly found on volcanics, it seems to not be specific to a single type of substrate. Despite some seed predation, one or two species of gall wasps, and a parasitic plant found attacking Q. toumeyi, no significant threat was found to any current population on public land. Of concern for both species are studies (Brusca et al. 2013, Nolan et al. 2018) showing that many plant ranges have already been observed to be shifting in response to climate change.

                Of the several species mistakenly identified as Q. toumeyi, the most interesting is Q. grisea. In the Red List of U.S. Oaks, the two come out as sister taxa. Their ranges approach each other in southern New Mexico and may overlap in the Animas, Burro, or Cookes ranges.

    Matt Jevnikar and Tim Thibault with Quercus toumeyi at Upper Walker Tank in the Santa Rita Mountains © John F. Wiens

    The recent publication of Q. barrancana (Spellenberg 2014) casts doubt about the extent of the range into Mexico, and surveying for Q. toumeyi in Mexico would be valuable. As for the U.S. side, monitoring of populations to ensure that they are stable would be beneficial.

                Q. toumeyi seems very well adapted to the bimodal rainfall of its native range. Plants in the Rincon Mountains were observed with flowers, early fruit, and mature fruit, both in January and July of 2018. It would be interesting to see if this is a weather anomaly for this particular year, or if the species in fact flowers and fruits twice yearly. Q. toumeyi deserves further horticultural evaluation. It may prove a valuable foundation plant or informal hedge for dry climates.

    Authors’ Contact Information:

    John F. Wiens (Organizer and Senior Collector), Nursery Horticulturist, Botany Department, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, AZ, 85743, jwiens@desertmuseum.org

    Tim Thibault (Organizer and Senior Collector), Curator, Woody Plant Materials, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, 91108, tthibault@huntington.org

    The original version of this report appeared in the February 8, 2019  edition of the journal Dendrology.

    Edited by Sandy Masuo, AZH editor

  • June 11, 2019 9:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last year, the AZH provided $7,000 for the International Reptile Conservation Foundation (IRCF) to implement a community-based habitat restoration project to support the Guatemalan beaded lizard (Heloderma charlesbogerti). Building on past success, the IRCF will use AZH funding this year to create habitat for these critically endangered reptiles by re-establishing oak forest on abandoned agricultural plots. This will be the first ecological restoration project in the dry forests of Guatemala. The project objectives are:

    1. Assess and document tree species composition in well-preserved areas of forest habitat.

    2. Engage local communities in direct conservation actions such as tree seed collection and reforestation.

    3. Establish a local nursery to propagate tree seedlings large enough to withstand dry seasons.

    4. Restore up to 100 hectares of habitat with 10,000 native trees.

    5. Determine survival and growth rates of newly planted trees.

    6. Develop scalable techniques for dry forest ecosystem restoration in the Matagua Valley.          

                Initial documentation of the tree species that occur in well-preserved forested areas has taken place, along with collection of seeds whenever possible. Twenty-five species have already been germinated, however, only a few of these were selected for the first stage of the reforestation program.

                A large-scale nursery has been established, complete with water tanks, a water pump, shade cloth, and fencing; re-purposed soda bottles serve as nursery pots. A  cost-effective, community-based method for propagating trees in large numbers was developed, transferring capacities to long-term community, school, and volunteer stakeholders who will be able to continue the project indefinitely. Thanks to timely problem solving in overseeing the operation of the nursery, we are on track to surpass our goal of 10,000 trees annually. The program so far includes about 20 volunteers continually taking care of different aspects of the project. Additionally, about 200 people have participated in reforestation events.

                Initiating planting of trees in the field coincided with the beginning of rainy season. So far, 5,000 trees have been planted and further reforestation events will soon take place. Monitoring of the trees planted in the field has determined that the survival rate is near 100 percent due to the abundant precipitation.

    The main goal of this project was to develop and test scalable techniques for the reforestation of the Guatemalan beaded lizard habitat. If we continue to nurture and coordinate these alliances, the Motagua Valley dry forest future looks promising. — Darryl Windham

  • April 22, 2019 8:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    San Diego Zoo Global

    Contributed by Carlos de la Rosa, Ph.D., Natural Lands Manager

    San Diego Zoo Global is committed to conserving rare plants and animals both abroad and in their own backyard. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, this commitment is literal, with half of the Safari Park developed to exhibit and support exotic animals and the backyard is a natural coastal sage scrub reserve. The newly minted Natural Lands Program is taking on the challenges associated with stewarding this important piece of Southern California habitat.
    Situated in the San Pasqual Valley of San Diego’s North County, the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park is world-famous, attracting over a million visitors a year. Looking out over the African plains, visitors can observe herds of Thompson’s gazelles, scimitar-horned oryx, reticulated giraffes, and white rhinoceros. Though most may have never seen a Kenyan savanna in person, the view is a rare but familiar sight, reinforced in our minds by picture books and nature documentaries.

    Past the rhinos and just over the hill to the east is an equally wild landscape, one that, paradoxically, every visitor walking through the gates has seen, but perhaps fewer can identify with precision: California’s coastal sage scrub. Adjacent to the Safari Park but still within the Zoo lease, the Safari Park Biodiversity Reserve is an 800-acre protected area consisting mostly of coastal sage scrub and subtypes like cactus scrub. Like the Safari Park, the Biodiversity Reserve is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals; unlike the Park, though, they are not on display, usually only noticed by the handful of researchers and students conducting work there.

    Photo of a Rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata) snake sunning on a rock

    Rosy boas (Lichanura trivirgata) are a cryptic but spectacular resident of the Safari Park Biodiversity Reserve. Photo: Carlos de la Rosa, courtesy of San Diego Zoo Global.

    Photo of Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in the coastal sage scrub of the San Pasqual Valley

    Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)are a common sight in the coastal sage scrub of the San Pasqual Valley in San Diego’s North County. Photo: Carlos de la Rosa, courtesy of San Diego Zoo Global.

    Photo of cactus scrub and the surrounding coastal sage scrub habitats

    Cactus scrub and the surrounding coastal sage scrub habitats are home to many plant and animal species. Photo: Christa Horn, courtesy of San Diego Zoo Global.

    Photo of rare species - coastal cactus wren

    Rare local species, such as coastal cactus wren, can be found adjacent to exotic hoofstock kept for breeding, both species supported by the conservation efforts of San Diego Zoo Global. Photo: Demi Debrino, courtesy of San Diego Zoo Global.

    California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and Parry’s phacelia (Phacelia parryi) blanket a slope in the Biodiversity Reserve adjacent to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Photo: Carlos de la Rosa, courtesy of San Diego Zoo Global.

    In the summer, the hills are a patchwork of browns and greys, a drab tapestry that gives no indication of the spectacular colors that come with spring. At the first rains, bush rue (Cneoridium dumosum) and four o’clock (Mirabilis laevis) flowers begin to brighten the landscape; if precipitation continues, the orange and yellow of California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), and bush sunflower (Encelia californica) will mix with the purple tints of Parry’s phacelia (Phacelia parryi), caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria), and blue fiestaflower (Pholistoma auritum). Later in the season, as the days become warmer and longer, more color emerges: purple chia (Salvia columbariae), pink tomcat clover (Trifolium willdenovii), violet showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis), magenta owl’s clover (Castilleja densiflora), to name a few of the species. Under a stand of coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), you may even find Campo Clarkia (Clarkia delicata), an annual recognized as threatened or endangered in California.

    San Diego County is noteworthy for its biological diversity, as well as high numbers of rare and threatened species. Habitat destruction, wildfire, and invasive species are highest on the list of likely drivers of local biological extinctions. Recently, San Diego Zoo Global created the Natural Lands Program to begin taking a more hands on and comprehensive approach to managing the habitat on our lands. In the Biodiversity Reserve, mitigating wildfire and invasive species are the highest priorities; if unchecked, either could cause sensitive species of concern, such as the coastal cactus wren, to lose precious habitat.

    Our goals for the Biodiversity Reserve fall into two categories. First, we aim to manage the natural lands in such a way that native species thrive, and are resilient to changing climate, wildfire, drought, and invasive species. This year, we treated 18 acres of stinknet (Oncosiphon piluliferum), an annual weed and emerging threat in the area, gaining a foothold in our south-facing slopes. These same slopes support an extensive patch of prickly pear cactus, vital habitat for the coastal cactus wren. By removing stinknet, we are improving habitat for cactus wrens and the many other species that call coastal sage scrub home. The weed removal also helps protect the habitat from wildfire by reducing fine fuels that could increase the frequency of fires. An early task of the Natural Lands Program will be to develop a management plan to help guide and prioritize management activities.

    Second, we are working to build a robust research and monitoring program that feeds back into our management plan. To know our baselines and historical populations of sensitive species, we are pulling together data and findings from previous research in the Biodiversity Reserve; likewise, we are planning new research projects designed to help us chart a path forward. Later this spring, we will conduct a thorough inventory of locations likely to contain rare plants. After a decade of drought in Southern California, the robust rains this year have us excited to see what species have been lying dormant in the seed bank. We are also designing experiments to test the response of snakes and lizards to habitat restoration, and to understand how species will survive as our climate changes.

    Though both management and research activities have occurred on the conserved land for decades, the new Natural Lands Program is an opportunity to place them in the context of a comprehensive management plan. SDZG’s commitment to this program also demonstrates its commitment to conservation, not only of the giraffes, elephants, and other exotic species in their care and abroad, but to the species found in their own backyard.

    CPC Save Plants newsletter - April 2019

  • April 16, 2019 11:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Gary Priest, Curator of Animal Care Training, San Diego Zoo Global Academy

    Zoos and aquariums regularly revitalize their facilities with new construction projects. If you are responsible for construction at a zoo or aquarium—or know a co-worker who is—this column is for you.

    A few months ago, I was contacted by Erika Kohler and Michael Ahlering, directors of operation for the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, respectively. Erika and Michael had a request: Does the Academy have a solution for training our construction contractors' employees on our rules for safely working on site at the Zoo and/or Safari Park? These contractor employees might be working on site for months, or for only a day or two. The goal for our two operations directors was to ensure that each employee of every construction contractor knows our organization's rules for working safely at the San Diego Zoo or the Safari Park. The directors wondered:

    • Could we help them build a short safety training course?
    • Could the Academy figure out a way to create and organize a list of applicable contractors and their employees for this training?
    • Could the training be accessible on a smartphone or tablet?
    • Could the training reside on a special dedicated site, specifically for San Diego Zoo Global vendors?
    • Could the training include a short quiz?
    • And, perhaps most important, in the event of an accident at a construction site, could the Academy be a source of reporting for improved compliance tracking?

    My tentative answer was "maybe." It was a tall order, and this was new territory. However today, I can report the answer is a definite "yes"—a brand-new program to do all of those things is now being rolled out at both of our facilities, just as they envisioned.

    The first order of business was to build a short, 10-minute safety course for on-site workers who are not our own employees. For course creation, we relied on an existing document that all our contractors must sign that spells out our organization's expectations for their employees' conduct while working at any of our facilities.

    Construction of the short course was not difficult. But, the review process involving the heads of other departments proved more challenging. Many good suggestions were proposed for including additional information, however the operation directors needed to remind our reviewers that the initial goal was to create a 10-minute training course, not an exhaustive legal document. In the end, with that understanding, only a few simple modifications were required to satisfy everyone.

    The course is now accessible via smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. With help from our partners at CypherWorx, we were able to create a special Vendor Academy site that is uniquely set up for our contractors and their employees. For the initial rollout and testing, we enlisted the help of two longtime contractors. Each contractor provided us with a list of their employees who would need this training. We created a group under each contractor company name and entered their employees in this folder. During the final phase of testing, we successfully worked out the operational details—including developing a solution for contractor employees who didn't have an email account or a smartphone.

    Your organization can benefit from this effort, because this contractor training concept is now available for all of the Academy community. Our contractor training course could be the starting point for your own customized training module. You can use our contractor training course as a template, customize it for your own operation (working with CypherWorx), and load it in your own Vendor Academy site. This allows everyone to go from "hoping" that contractors conduct themselves a certain way while working on grounds, to managing the outcome of this important aspect of operations with the right tool for the job—and that tool is training.

    To view a sample of our Contractor Employee Safety Training course, click here.

    What's great about the collaborative Academy community is that we can develop new programs like this one together, in real time. If this idea interests you—or if you have questions, or are interested in finding out the cost to develop a customized contractor module for your institution—contact Linda Duca at lduca@cypherworx.com.

  • April 09, 2019 8:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Tallying the zoo’s trees chronicles historic and current landscape and shapes plantings for the future.

    Massive branches that arch overhead, bright flowers in spring, cooling green shade on a summer day: So much of the pleasure of a stroll through Lincoln Park Zoo comes from the majesty and grace of its trees.

    Along a path, you may pass new saplings and grand old giants. Near the Helen Brach Primate House is one huge bur oak estimated to be 220 years old; the trunk is so wide that “it would take three people to hug it,” says Joe Rothleutner, director of horticulture. The tree was already broad and shady when the zoo was founded 150 years ago.

    When this and other nearby oaks were young, they sprouted from acorns in dunes along the wild shoreline of Lake Michigan. By the time upstart Chicago decided it needed a park and a zoo, these trees were large enough to be valued features of the landscape. Around them, dunes became lawns, new animal noises filled the air, buildings rose, paths were paved, and hundreds more trees were planted.

    The zoo now has about 1,500 trees of 300 types, according to a new tree inventory conducted by the horticulture staff. They include nine kinds of oaks, seven of them Chicago-area native species.

    “We wanted to understand all the different kinds of trees we have and what we need to do for them,” says Rothleutner. Reliable plant records only go back to 2009, so every tree from Nature Boardwalk to Walter Family Arctic Tundra had to be visited, identified, and measured.

    Now there’s a database where the lives and health of the trees can be monitored, in much the same way that the zoo tracks its animals. “Some of these trees will still be living in 100 or 150 years,” Rothleutner says. “And preventative care is important.”

    He and Abby Lorenz, manager of plant records and horticulture programs, are using the data to guide a greater investment in science-based care for existing trees and planting for the future. Preserving the zoo’s historic trees requires extra measures such as pruning to remove dead or damaged limbs and fungicide treatments to hold off disease. “Medical bills tend to go up for all of us as we get older,” he says.

    The inventory also helps them plan what trees to plant. No tree lives forever, and young trees must be added to continuously renew the tree canopy. But they need to be carefully chosen.

    It’s critical not to plant too many of one kind, like the American elms that once lined parks and streets, easy prey for the Dutch elm disease that nearly annihilated them. To avoid that, the zoo plants many different species in the hope that no matter what challenges its trees face in the future, some will survive.

    The historic oaks on the South Lawn have already seen the world’s climate change. Trees planted today will live to see even more changes—hotter summers, more drought, bigger storms, invasive insects, diseases, and new hazards. “It’s hard to anticipate what’s going to happen,” Rothleutner says. “Our only real safeguard is to plant a wide variety of trees.”

    A northern catalpa tree stands just east of the zoo parking lot.

    New plantings include not only native species but hardy trees from around the world, such as katsura, zelkova, and ginkgo trees from Asia. More flowering trees are being added to enrich the spring display.

    Where possible, Rothleutner and his staff choose trees that suggest the stories of nearby animals. No African tree could survive a Chicago winter, but near Regenstein African Journey there’s a tropical feeling in the huge leaves of an umbrella magnolia, a tree from the Appalachian Mountains.

    Trees live long, and in a century the umbrella magnolia may still stand while the zoo continues to grow and evolve. One thing is sure: With foresight and care for its trees, the zoo will still be green.

    posted from Lincoln Park Zoo news

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