International award for Eden’s plant conservation
The Eden Project has become one of the world’s first gardens to receive a prestigious new accreditation for plant conservation.
Botanic Gardens Conservation International, which represents botanic gardens around the world, has launched the BGCI Conservation Practitioner Accreditation programme to recognise excellence in plant conservation policy, practice and education, and accredit botanic gardens carrying out plant conservation activities of local, national or global importance.
Eden has become one of just a handful of botanic gardens in the world to receive the accreditation after demonstrating it delivers a range of conservation-related policies, practices and activities adhering to internationally recognised standards.
Projects of note are:
- National Wildflower Centre – Eden hosts the National Wildflower Centre, a facility promoting the use and conservation of wildflowers in both rural and urban landscapes.
- Pollinator conservation – Eden, working with the University of Exeter, is undertaking research on pollinator landscapes to enhance pollinator recovery in garden and agricultural landscapes.
- Horticultural training – Eden Project Learning offers a variety of degrees with strong conservation elements. Eden staff teach on the University of Exeter Masters Degree in Conservation Biology. Eden hosts professionals from all over the world. Currently it is hosting a colleague from the Korean National Arboretum.
- Eden’s Chilean arboretum has the UK’s largest collection of threatened Chilean trees. The research and educational resource which began in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and the International Conservation Conifer Programme includes the monkey puzzle (Araucaria araucana), the alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides) and the cloud podocarp (Podocarpus nubigenus). This area is being upgraded in collaboration with colleagues from Chile and Edinburgh.
- Juniper conservation – A team of scientists and horticulturists from Eden and Natural England is conserving one of the country’s rarest plants, the Lizard juniper (Juniperus communis ssp. hemisphaerica), from extinction. With only 13 plants left in the wild eight years ago the team took cuttings and grew new plants at Eden’s nursery which were then planted in a secret location on the Lizard Peninsula to establish a new colony.
- Devil’s-bit scabious - Eden has supported Natural England to create favourable conditions for the rare marsh fritillary butterfly. Swathes of devil’s-bit scabious – the main food plant for marsh fritillary caterpillars – have been grown by Eden and planted alongside the A30 road corridor.
- Eden’s estate management as a nature reserve is being highlighted as a case study for Cornwall Council’s Environmental Growth Strategy.
- Eden’s Rainforest Biome horticulturists have worked with conservation projects in Cameroon and Honduras.
- Eden has strong conservation collaborations in both Southern and Eastern Africa, working with the East African Plant Red List Authority and the Grootbos Conservancy.
Dr Mike Maunder, Eden’s Director of Life Sciences, said: “BGCI represents the global plant conservation community and we are honoured to be awarded this accreditation.
“This recognition is only partly about what we have done and more about how we can expand our collaborations in Cornwall, the UK and globally.
“Plant and habitat conservation is vital to our future. We all depend on plants for food, water, climate regulation and watersheds, we also depend upon them for delight. This ethos and an associated sense of urgency guides our work at Eden.”
Chris Bisson, Policy Development Manager at Eden, said: “We’re proud to be among the first recipients of the BGCI’s Conservation Practitioner Accreditation, which recognises excellence in plant conservation policy, practice and education.
“We have a deep passion for conservation and this accreditation recognises our extraordinary commitment to stopping extinctions.”
BGCI accreditation ensures that gardens adhere to international standards and benefits gardens by giving them recognition, opportunities for peer review, standards for excellence and funding as well as promoting botanic garden leadership.