Embedding sustainability in botanic gardens
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Embedding sustainability in botanic gardens. Suzanne Sharrock Director of Global Programmes. Indonesia. Over 2,500 botanic gardens in +150 countries . UK. Germany. Mauritius. Jordan . Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. South Africa. Defining the botanic garden.

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Embedding sustainability in botanic gardens

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Embedding sustainability in botanic gardens

Embedding sustainability in botanic gardens

Suzanne Sharrock

Director of Global Programmes

Embedding sustainability in botanic gardens


Over 2,500 botanic gardens in +150 countries





Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

South Africa

Defining the botanic garden

Defining the botanic garden

  • An institution holding collections of documented and living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education

    • Botanic Gardens Conservation International, 1998

Botanic gardens and sustainability

Botanic gardens and sustainability

  • Sustainable practices in the botanic garden

  • Sustainable use of plant diversity

  • Sustainable development

  • Education for sustainability

Sustainable practices in the botanic garden

Sustainable practices in the botanic garden

  • Water and energy use

  • Building design

  • Environmentally friendly practices in horticulture and garden management

  • Recycling and waste management

  • Education

Water use efficiency

Water use efficiency

  • e.g. – Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Australia

    • Upgraded delivery infrastructure (automatic, computer controlled)

    • Professional development – training of staff

    • Research and industry partnerships

    • Improved application efficiency (stream-type not spray sprinklers, optimal use of rainfall)

    • Adopt current technology

    • Reduce water demand

    • Diversify alternative water sources

Embedding sustainability in botanic gardens

Auditing programme of sprinkler system using recycled petfood tins as catch cans

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency

  • Historic botanic gardens – heated greenhouses – protected buildings.

  • Difficult to retro-fit energy saving measures

  • Need to look at minimum temperatures possible

  • Turn down/off policy for staff

  • Monthly energy consumption charts

  • Annual targets set

  • Alternative energy sources

Sustainable buildings

Sustainable buildings

  • Many new botanic garden buildings have attained LEED certification. Focus on:

    • Energy sources (solar, geothermal, wind etc.)

    • Site selection – avoiding impact on natural areas

    • Recycling water and other building components

    • Daylight and views

    • Local materials

    • Native plantings

Waste management

Waste management

  • e.g. NBG Ireland:

  • In 2004 only 20% of waste generated in the garden was recycled

  • Various approaches – ‘no bin’ option most successful

  • Today – 60% is recycled

  • Volume of waste cut by 50%

Sustainable sites initiative

Sustainable sites initiative

  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, US Botanic Garden and American Society of Landscape Architects

  • Focus on sustainability in landscapes, not just buildings

  • “Through planning, design, construction and maintenance of landscapes, the natural world should be viewed not as a hindrance, but as a resource”

Sustainable sites initiative1

Sustainable Sites Initiative

  • Creating standards and guidelines:

  • Using appropriate plants

  • Managing soils

  • Waste management

  • Water use

  • Reducing pollution

  • Human well-being

Sustainable sites initiative2

Sustainable Sites Initiative

  • Uses ecosystem services as a framework to illustrate how sustainable sites can improve the quality of life in our communities

  • Provides sustainability principles for any site, with or without buildings, which will be re/developed for public or private purposes

Sustainable use of plant diversity

Sustainable use of plant diversity

  • Botanic gardens based on the use of plant diversity

    • Medicinal plants

    • Plant acclimation – colonial era

    • Restoration

    • Amenity

Sustainable use of plant diversity1

Sustainable use of plant diversity

  • Sustainable sources of plant-based products in the garden – including in shops and restaurants

  • Work with local communities to develop sustainable harvesting practices

  • Develop cultivation and propagation methods to take the pressure off wild-harvested plants

Education for sustainability

Education for sustainability

  • Botanic gardens receive more than 200 million visitors per year

  • All sectors of society

  • Opportunity to educate and inform about sustainability

  • Lead by example

Role of bgci

Role of BGCI

  • BGCI is a worldwide networking organisation

  • Provides information, tools and guidance

  • Helps in sharing experience and spreading good practice



  • Botanic gardens are well placed to demonstrate sustainability issues

  • Many are taking a lead in various ways

  • Challenges relate to historical nature of gardens and buildings

  • Education for sustainability is a key role for many gardens

  • BGCI provides support and information exchange

Thank you for your attention

Thank you for your attention!

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