Botanist and plant conservationist Peter Wyse Jackson, from
Missouri, sums up the 'grand challenges' for botanic
gardens in the future during the closing lecture of the 5th
Global Botanic Gardens Congress in Dunedin yesterday.
A major international conference held in Dunedin over the
past week drew to a close yesterday amid plaudits for the city
and its people.
The 5th Global Botanic Gardens Congress attracted 347
delegates from 45 countries to the city for the week for the
conference, which largely took place in the city's recently
refurbished Dunedin Centre.
Closing the conference, incoming chairman of Botanic Gardens
Conservation International (BGCI) Stephen Blackmore, Regius
Keeper at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, said the
congress had been ''exceptional''.
''Several people here had said they think it has been the
best global congress yet.''
The day of excursions around Dunedin, including visits to
Orokonui Ecosanctuary and Taiaroa Head on Wednesday had been
a particular highlight, ''so wonderful and different'', he
Botanic Garden Australia New Zealand president Anne Duncan
thanked Dunedin, specifically the ''fantastically warm
welcome'' delegates received from the community, while BGCI
secretary-general Sara Oldfield said it had been ''absolutely
wonderful'', and seeing the albatross at Taiaroa Head had
been ''a special lifetime experience'' for her personally.
Photos by Craig Baxter.
A lot had been achieved during the congress, she said.
The roles of botanic gardens, challenges for the future and
ways of addressing those had been debated and agreed, including
strong agreement that one of the main roles of botanic gardens
was to help address global issues such as food security and
Dunedin Botanic Garden team leader Alan Matchett received a
standing ovation from delegates for his and his team's
efforts in organising the event.
Earlier, in the closing lecture of the congress, president of
the Missouri Botanical Garden, and one of the world's best
known botanists, Peter Wyse Jackson, outlined the recent
successes of botanic gardens and the challenges for them in
He said one of the most obvious successes was the growth in
numbers of botanic gardens, from 798 worldwide in 1983 to
3116 in 2013.
There was a now a strong world network of gardens. Instead of
the mainly science research and living collection managers
and public amenities with limited educational roles they were
in the 1980s, the gardens were now multipurpose botanical
resource centres serving cities, countries and the world
through global strategies to conserve threatened plant
He highlighted the importance of expanding plant conservation
and environmental education through botanic gardens, and the
increasingly influential role of botanic gardens in the
development of international policies in biodiversity
The challenges now were for botanic gardens to work together
and share information more effectively, take more leadership
in sustainability and environmental education by being more
engaging, accessible and relevant, push boundaries in plant
science and work out how to support and sustain all of the
botanic gardens built over the past decade.
The Dunedin City Council, the main sponsor of the congress,
contributed $70,000 to the event, which was estimated to
inject more than $1.5 million to the Dunedin economy over the
A spokeswoman said the congress was charged $20,000 for venue
hire, which was not part of the sponsorship deal.