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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

Embedding sustainability in botanic gardens

Suzanne Sharrock

Director of Global Programmes



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
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