The Botanist X Botanic Gardens Conservation International


The Botanist joins forces with BGCI to further the conservation of rare and endangered plants.

Following on from our B Corp accreditation, we’re delighted to announce a new partnership with BGCI, an organisation representing Botanic Gardens in more than 100 countries around the world.

Who are BGCI?

Botanic Gardens Conservation International was established in 1987 to link the botanic gardens of the world in a global network for plant conservation. BGCI is an independent UK charity with its head office located at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

BGCI’s membership and larger network has grown consistently over the years, and now includes more than 500 botanic gardens in more than 100 countries worldwide. Its aim is to unite botanic gardens and other organisations committed to saving the world’s threatened plants.

They also support the development and implementation of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation at a global, regional, national, and local level. They work directly with its members and other plant conservation organisations, carrying out threat assessments, seed conservation, ecological restoration, plant health and education projects around the world.

Why have we joined forces?

The Botanist’s mission is to help people reconnect to nature.  We recognise the significance of plant conservation and biodiversity, which is why we set up The Botanist Foundation, with a mission “to work with the people of Islay and beyond to further the understanding and conservation of the island’s biodiversity.”

Since its inauguration in 2015, we’ve supported plant conservation and environmental projects on Islay. Our interest stems from our passion for plants and progressive agriculture and our commitment to looking after the island that has given us the 22 botanicals that go into The Botanist. As a sustainability-conscious producer we feel a responsibility towards the plants themselves, as they increasingly become threatened in many parts of the world. Now, in addition to our existing projects, The Foundation will sponsor BGCI’s Global Botanic Garden Fund, through specific initiatives set out within the partnership between BGCI and The Botanist. 

We spoke to Dr Paul Smith, Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International who said:

“Together, we will prevent the extinction of plant species and raise public awareness of the value of plants to people. We are thrilled to be working with the great people at The Botanist and Bruichladdich Distillery. Through their support to BGCI and their own sustainability efforts, The Botanist demonstrates not only best practice, but true leadership.”

We’ve kicked off the partnership by backing the first Global Botanic Garden Fund. The Fund supports plant conservation practices, policy and education, infrastructure development, training for plant conservation and international partnerships for smaller gardens. 

Kaua‘i, Hawaiʻi – National Tropical Botanical Garden

Of all the Hawaiian Islands, Kaua‘i is home to the highest number of single-island endemic plant species and the highest number with less than 50 individuals remaining in the wild. This project focuses on conserving the Kaua‘i single-island endemic flowering tree Pteralyxia kauaiensis, which has been officially endangered since the 1990s. There are only a handful of known populations left in the wild on Kaua’i, which has one of the world’s most scenic canyons and one of its wettest recorded mountains. A big challenge in being able to make collections is reaching the populations. The BGCI and The Botanist have part-funded the project which has afforded access by helicopter to remote, otherwise inaccessible, locations to make collections of this endangered plant.

Seeds will be collected in order to establish new conservation collections and leaves will be collected for their DNA and stored in the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s proto-DNA library – a freezer – located in the garden’s Botanical Research Center.

Mexico – Clavijero Botanical Garden

This garden features a 30 hectare cloud forest sanctuary, which is a diversity hotspot for orchids. In Veracruz region, Mexico, only 3% of the original cloud forest remains. Funding from The Global Botanical Garden Fund will allow much-needed attention to be given to researching and regenerating the shrub layer, about which not much is known, with the idea that what they learn will be transferable to other gardens and conservation areas. They will host educational workshops and outreach activities, which are important because besides pressure from housing development and agriculture, there is a strong local market for the forest’s timber, orchids and even its soils.

South Africa – Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden

Funding received will help with a programme to save five highly threatened Cape bulb plants and ground orchids, some of which have fewer than 100 specimens left in the wild and are on the brink of extinction. The iconic Oxalis fragilis, in the wood sorrel family, had not been seen in the wild since the 1930s until it was recently rediscovered by a botanist on “a handkerchief-sized area” in the Swartland – the breadbasket of Cape Town. Its habitat remains under pressure, but the cultivated seeds will be hand pollinated and given the best attention in the living collection of the oldest university garden in South Africa.

Mountains of the Moon (Rwenzori mountains) Uganda Tooro Botanic Gardens  x MUSE Italy

This is a partnership programme involving two gardens in very different parts of the world, both dealing with alpine plants. This international collaboration will help capacity building and reduce the cost of seed conservation for both gardens. Tooro Botanical Gardens is a community owned NGO set in the dramatic landscape of the East African Rift’s high mountains, operating one of the largest indigenous tree nurseries in Uganda.

MUSE is the science museum of the Dolomites, opened in 2013, whose Botanical division oversees two botanical gardens, a herbarium, a lab, a seedbank, and the tropical Afromontane greenhouse. This full circle project has the ultimate ambition of helping both institutions achieve BGCI Accreditation.

 Uganda-  Tooro Botanic Gardens

Beyond sponsoring the Fund, we will be popping up at events in local botanical gardens all over the world with plenty of opportunities for you to enjoy the incredible surroundings of botanical gardens, learn more about local plants –especially in regards to flavours – and perhaps renew your connection with nature.

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