Conference to address extinction

The issue of plant conservation in a changing global environment will be the focus of a conference next month.

Preventing the annual extinction of 1,000 plant cultivars is one of the aims of a conference next month. The goal of the joint RHS and National Council for the Conservation of Plants & Gardens’ Growing Heritage conference is to develop an action plan to enable more effective plant conservation. RHS head of botany and conference organising team member John David said changes to plant import rules in the UK meant more thought had to be given to how to continue preserving ornamental plants from around the world. He said there were many examples where once-popular plants — such as dahlias and Scottish roses — had fallen from fashion and had almost become extinct. Better collation of information would let gardeners know if their specimen was threatened, David added. The conference will also consider how plant importation could continue in a responsible and sustainable way. “One of the possible problems we face is that we depend upon ongoing introductions of plants from other countries to enhance our gardens and our stock of garden plants,” said David. While this needed to continue, he said, some countries were beginning to question why they were not receiving more in return. “We have a large genotype pool from plants from other countries that may no longer exist there and we could set up programmes to replace those.” * See www.rhs.org.uk/Growingheritage

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