About 1,000 botanists and horticulturists from around the world
gathered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Monday to discuss
ways to conserve global plant diversity.
"Of the current 300,000 to 450,000 plant species in the wild, 10
percent to 20 percent are threatened or faced with extinction
according to our most conservative calculation," said Sara
Oldfield, secretary general of the UK-based Botanical Gardens
Conservation International (BGCI), at the Third Global Botanical
But the number of endangered species may actually be as high as
94,052 to 193,513 and if mankind does not take emergency measures,
we could witness a complete exhaustion of plant resources by the
end of this century, she said.
It is the first time the congress has been held in Asia,
attracting 726 botanists and horticulturists from 89 countries and
regions in addition to 252 Chinese experts.
During the five-day congress, between April 16 and 20, the
experts will discuss how to achieve a sustainable future through
the role of botanical gardens.
BGCI, a charity group and also a company registered in England,
links more than 800 botanical gardens and botanical institutions in
more than 120 countries and regions.
Data provided by Chinese botanical gardens will become an
important part of a global database of every plant species in the
world, now under construction, said Professor Peter H. Raven,
president of the Missouri Botanical Garden.
"If a national network of botanical gardens can be established
in China, it will improve conservation of the country's plants,"
Raven said the BGCI hoped to complete the database within six
years but meeting this target would depend on support from
countries all round the world, especially those with large
biodiversities such as China.
China has more than 31,000 species of plants, the third largest
number of varieties in the world after Brazil and Columbia, but
about 6,000 are endangered, according to statistics from the World
"About 200 botanical gardens have been built in China, but only
40 of them are focusing on plant conservation and scientific
research," said Huang Hongwen, director of the Wuhan Botanical
Gardens. "The rest of them cater for tourists and school
Huang has submitted a proposal to the Chinese Academy of
Sciences (CAS) and other government departments suggesting the
country's botanical gardens should be organized into a national
network so they can collect and share data from plants in their own
He said that 30 botanical gardens should be selected as the key
members of the network and they should take the lead to try and
reach international standards.
"This will improve the research capability of botanical gardens
across the country and help establish a reliable national database
which can be integrated into the global database," said Huang.
"China is taking an active role in plant conservation and the
construction of botanical gardens," said Sara Oldfield,
Secretary-General of the BGCI. She said that with a unified
national network of botanical gardens, China would be able to
contribute more to the protection of the world's biodiversity.
At the BGCI congress, the State Forestry Administration (SFA)
released the National Strategy for Plant Conservation to complement
the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.
The role of botanical gardens is highlighted in this program as
well as their role in collaborating with foreign counterparts and
international organizations, said Dr Jia Jiansheng, deputy
director-general of the Department of Wildlife Conservation of the
(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2007)