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16 Feb 2020

Responding to Climate Change

by Peter Symes, Curator Horticulture, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

How can we respond to climate change?

“In the next 50 years, 20-50% of current plant species in botanic gardens and urban landscapes will likely confront temperatures those species have never experienced before” – Dr Dave Kendal, University of Tasmania.

The effective safeguarding of living collections and plant biodiversity face us with distinct challenges but one of the most significant is the now changing climate. However, we can and must take immediate steps to ensure that our holdings are protected by improving our understanding of plant vulnerability to future conditions, duplicating important plant material with other more climate suited botanic gardens and or taking the opportunity to develop new collections suited to a warmer future.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria have developed responses to climate change that you can read in full here. These resources can inform the planning and managing of your living collections for aspects such as:

  • conserving rare and distinctive plants
  • highlighting the effects of climate change
  • contributing to scientific knowledge
  • reducing running costs
  • minimising soil carbon loss
  • improving the mental health and wellbeing of the Garden’s visitors
  • assisting in reducing localised air temperatures

In 2018, at the Botanic Gardens Climate Change Summit, the Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens was formed with an aim to use global collaboration to tackle the climate change threats facing plant species. A growing membership of the Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens can provide a global network of expertise and diverse botanical organisations and access to tools (currently being developed) to support resilient plant collections into the future. If you are interested in learning more or wanting to join, then visit the Climate Change Alliance.

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