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Tangled Banks and Sentinel Plants: Our Biodiversity Plan

Reading Time 1 minute and 50 seconds
Date 16 August 2023
We are delighted to announce that we have recently published our Biodiversity Plan – a strategic document which sets out a long-term vision for our research, conservation and education, and the steps we’ll take over the next 12 years to make this possible. It puts plant research and monitoring at the heart of all our activities, generating evidence which can really make a difference to decision making as habitats reassemble under climate change. To generate these data we will shift the Botanic Garden from being a place of display to a living, dynamic test bed where we can safely test interventions, track changes and measure indicators of change – all of which will contribute to near-term ecological forecasting, recommendations for conservation and land use approaches, and to help answer some of the big questions that climate change and range shifts are throwing our way.

The Biodiversity Plan sets out Core Projects that we will deliver over the course of the next 12 years. Each of the projects is designed to take a partnership -approach to addressing specific challenges, allowing us to link study areas in the Garden to habitats around the world, building-in research and evidence gathering to the very fabric of the Garden in a way that embraces co-design and knowledge sharing. One of the key elements in the strategy is the Sentinel Plants project.

Twelve plants have been chosen to be the focus of particularly detailed monitoring and research – our Sentinel Plants. These include woody and herbaceous species, and were chosen specifically because they represent gaps in our current knowledge – selection criteria included few or no entries on plant trait databases such as TRY or Compadre, and an IUCN Red List assessment of Threatened, Unknown or Data Deficient. They will be added to the garden gradually, whilst we also build partnerships with others who study or manage the same plants, and relationships with organisations in the countries within their native range. Using and adapting industry-specific standard methodologies, we will collect a range of measurements including trait and demographic data. This will contribute to predictive modelling of how plants interact with changing environments and assist practical field conservation strategies, as well as informing potential trans-situ conservation efforts.
Botanical gardens have long been centres for ground-breaking plant research, innovation and experimentation. However, given the speed and intensity of changes in the world around us, we must change to keep up and stay relevant. This Biodiversity Plan will help us to ensure that our plants and activities reflect this and enable us to make the most positive impact on those challenges facing us.

You can view our Biodiversity Plan in full here

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