Conservation plan set up for cultivated plants

An action plan to ensure the survival of cultivated plants is agreed at a major conference.

Plant conservers agreed an action plan for the conservation of cultivated plants in the future at the RHS Growing Heritage conference in London last week. Delegates want cultivated plants to win the same level of conservation as old varieties of fruit and vegetables have in recent years. They are worried that Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) rules will stop plant hunting expeditions and limit diversity. RHS director of science and learning Simon Thornton-Wood said: “The aim is to get people to notice conservation of cultivated plants as an issue. There is a feeling that it is something that can look after itself but it can’t with changing regulations.” He said great plant hunting expeditions of 50 years ago had brought in garden plants such as Sorbus but while the most commercial became common garden plants, others may die out. Thornton-Wood added that delegates agreed to work together to share information, to have further meetings to carry the project forward and to get the message that cultivated plant conservation is important out to the public. RHS committee member Nigel Colborn, who spoke at the conference, added: “There’s an increasing urgency for the conservation not only of the natural world but also of horticulture.” He said nurseries, National Council for the Conservation of Plants & Gardens members and other plantsmen can get involved in “helping conserve the conservation gene pool we have”.

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