Genetic conservation and the role of botanic gardens

TitleGenetic conservation and the role of botanic gardens
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1987
AuthorsWilliams, JT, Creech, JL
EditorBramwell, D, Hamann, O, Heywood, VH, Synge, H
Book TitleBotanic gardens and the world conservation strategy: Proceedings of an international conference, 26-30 November 1985 held at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Date Published1987
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Call NumberQK71.B65 1987
Keywordsbotanical gardens; conservation; rainforests

Botanic gardens -- although historically of great importance in the introduction of exotic materials often linked to cash crop development -- were part of the plant introduction systems out of which developed the genetic resource programs in the past few decades. But they have been less than successful in conserving plant materials. With the rapid growth in the nature conservation movement and the economic recession limiting funds, many have realized they have changing roles. Much of this has been sparked by dramatic appeals from botanic gardens in developed countries to help in conservation of the rapidly eroding tropical rain forest.

Current compartmentalized action needs to be coordinated, not from the viewpoint of assuming roles and responsibilities which will only exacerbate the inactivities of many organizations over the past couple of decades, but to produce fruitful liaison based on good science and not emotional or financial considerations.

To this end the authors outline a number of scientific imperatives which could lead to positive action and enable all organizations at this conference to assume their moral and evolutionary responsibilities. They may require radical changes in thinking (but after all evolution is based on genetic change in relation to environment). The manipulation of plants by man has led to a wealth of diversity for food, fiber, shelter and medicine. Now we have the chance to manipulate at the molecular level. We must stand ready with our material available, well documented and with clear priorities for future action.


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