BGCI Education Blog

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

UK educators explore the GSPC for themselves

Julia and I were enjoying the autumn sunshine at the annual Botanic Garden Education Network conference last month, along with 63 others from 24 organisations. It was a super conference, always good fun to catch up with the members, but most importantly the focus was on the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. The keynote speeches were excellent, started off by Peter Wyse Jackson's summary of the how, what, why, where and when of the GSPC, then followed with presentations on each of the five objectives of the GSPC:

Objective 1 of GSPC – Understanding and Documenting Plant Diversity, Trevor Dines, Plantlife

Objective 2 of GSPC – Facilitating harmony, identifying gaps and promoting mobilisation of resources for plant conservation Chris Cheffings, Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

  • Objective 3 of GSPC – the ecosystem approach to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity Monique Simmonds, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

  • Objective 4 – Piloting targets, developing and implementing the thematic programmes of work of the Convention Jayne Manley, Plantlife.

  • Objective 5 – Building capacity for plant conservation. How are we doing?Deborah Long, Plantlife.

Each presentation provided a very clear summary of what was happening in the UK with the targets of the GSPC, who was doing what, what had been achieved, what was left to do up to and beyond 2010 and what the challenges are. I found it really helpful to gain an understanding of how different organisations and institutions are contributing to the GSPC. It makes it much more tangible when particular actions are gradually achieving the strategy's targets.

I think part of the intangibility of the GSPC for me is that Target 14 lands firmly at the feet of the educators, is huge and cross-cutting for all the other targets as well. We may not ever know if we can or if we have achieved the target, as it is so difficult to measure. However, the workshops at the BGEN conference provided some great ideas of how we can contribute to the other targets through education and communication provision.

One great example was a workshop on alien invasive species by Plantlife International. Did you know that invasives are the second biggest threat to UK biodiversity and the main source of invasives are gardens? Education therefore has vital role to play in convincing anyone who has or uses a garden that there is a problem and they can help. Plantlife have developed a programme on aquatic invasives and have loads of information on their website about invasives in the UK.

Julia and I also ran a workshop on Target 14 - we wanted to get BGEN members talking about how BGEN can take T14 forward in the UK. We had some great suggestions and ideas. we are still putting the report together, but will post it up on the blog when we have pulled out the main action points. Other workshops covered topics such as teaching about food security, native flora, sustainable procurement and organic gardening. The workshop descriptions and the congress papers are all on the BGEN website, do have a look to see what was discussed.

I really think that this format of conference worked very well to get the network member on board with the GSPC - and would suggest it as a good topic for any network meeting to encourage participation with achieving the GSPC.

There is more on BGEN on the website.

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