Plant Conservation at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium | Français | Nederlands
The need for plant conservation has never been more important. Through the effects of climate change, habitat destruction and the spread of invasive alien species, the world's flora faces unprecedented challenges.
It is the role of all responsible botanic gardens to contribute to preserving plant life. National Botanic Garden of Belgium is one of these. Its botanical and horticultural staff contribute to preserving plant life in many key areas that encompass projects based in Belgium and around the world.
At the local level, our ecology staff helped compile the Atlas of the Flora, a comprehensive book detailing the habitat, ecology and distribution of all plants in the of Flanders and Brussels Regions. Amongst the varied projects in the south of Belgium is one aimed at securing a future for the county's only endemic plant, a unique houseleek or sempervivum (Sempervivum funckii var. aqualiense) which is confined to a single limestone cliff in the Ardennes.
At the national level Meise manages Belgium's contribution to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, an ambitious set of 16 targets endeavours to substantially improve decrease the threats to plants on the planet by 2010. At national and European levels Meise is an active member of the European Native Seed Conservation Network and also maintains a seed bank whereby seeds can be stored for, hundreds of years, if need be under conditions of -20°C. The institute has also been at the forefront of initiatives to improve the roles botanic gardens play in conservation.
The Garden is also the depository for plants confiscated by customs officers in Belgium's ports. These are plants that are threatened and restricted for trade by CITES. Something everybody should about aware of before going on holiday.
In the living plant collections we are proud to maintain a rich conservation collection of highly endangered African violets or Saintpaulia that were collected from their native Tanzanian mountains. Elsewhere in Africa, Meise is responsible for the rehabilitation of the Kisantu Botanic Garden in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where increasing the awareness of plants to staff and visitors are an important aspects of the work.
Education is important at home, and there the education department, is expanding the knowledge of school children, general visitors and those outside the Garden with regular talks, guided walks and press communiqués. While other staff regularly present at international meetings and conferences on plant conservation.