Botanic Gardens Conservation International
BGCI provides a global voice for all botanic gardens, championing and celebrating their inspiring work. We are the world's largest plant conservation network, open to all. Join us in helping to save the world's threatened plants.



Paul Smith - Secretary General

With a career spanning 25 years working in conservation, Paul joined BGCI as Secretary General in March 2015. He is the former Head of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) and, during his nine years at the helm, seeds from more than 25,000 plant species were conserved in the MSB. In addition, Paul promoted the concept of seed banks as a resource for human innovation, adaptation and resilience, and, today, seeds from the MSB and its partner seed banks are being used in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and habitat restoration.

Paul trained as a plant ecologist, and is a specialist in the plants and vegetation of southern Africa. He is the author of two field guides to the flora of south-central Africa, the editor of the Ecological Survey of Zambia and the co-author of the Vegetation Atlas of Madagascar. 

Suzanne Sharrock

Suzanne Sharrock - Director of Global Programmes

Suzanne works on policy issues connected with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and Access and Benefit Sharing. She provides the Secretariat to the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation and  supports the European Botanic Gardens Consortium. Suzanne is also co-editor of BGCI's twice-yearly botanic garden journal (BGjournal). 

Before joining BGCI, Suzanne worked for the International Plant Genetics Resources Institute (now Bioversity International) and has also worked on plant genetic resource projects in Nepal, Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Caribbean


Joachim Gratzfeld

Joachim Gratzfeld - Director of Regional Programmes

Joachim joined BGCI as Director of Regional Programmes in November 2006. In this capacity he manages BGCI’s programme development at regional and national levels, working with botanic gardens and affiliated organisations and partners in many parts of world, notably in China, South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East

Prior to joining BGCI, he was responsible for the implementation of numerous conservation projects and programmes, in particular capacity building in biodiversity conservation and dryland ecosystem management based at the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in Pakistan and Switzerland, the latter being his home country.

A trained field biologist and plant ecologist specialising in the interface between conservation and human development, Joachim has a keen interest in promoting botanic gardens as custodians of plant diversity through advancing their role in the integration of ex and in situ plant conservation efforts.



Martha Love

Martha Love - Head of Finance

Martha manages the financial reporting for the organisation. She prepares and maintains both statutory and management accounting information, as well as controlling bank accounts, payments, receipts and Payroll.

Meirion Jones - Head of Information Management

Meirion is our database expert. Meirion is your contact for queries on PlantSearch and GardenSearch databases.

meirion.jones AT

Malin Rivers - Head of Conservation Prioritisation

Malin manages the red listing at BGCI. Her activities include undertaking and supporting red list assessments of Magnoliaceae, Theaceae, oaks and timber taxa. In addition to her role as Red List Manager, Malin is also the Secretary of the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group.

Malin previously worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and undertook a PhD evaluating the success of undertaking conservation assessments based on specimen and genetic data.

Kirsty Shaw - Head of Ecological Restoration and Tree Conservation

Kirsty manages a range of tree conservation and ecological restoration projects at BGCI. She is involved in project development and management for the Global Trees Campaign - a joint initiative between BGCI and Fauna & Flora International to safeguard the world's threatened tree species from extinction. She supports coordination of the  Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens and manages the project Enhancing Tree Conservation and Forest Restoration in Africa.

Brian Lainoff - Head of Membership Strategy and Services

Brian joined BGCI in 2018 to lead the BGCI Membership Programme, manage the BGCI Accreditation Scheme and the Global Botanic Garden Fund, and provide the strategic direction and services for BGCI membership.

Prior to joining BGCI, Brian completed the MPhil in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge. Brian led partnerships and communications efforts for the Global Crop Diversity Trust in Bonn, Germany from 2012-2017. Brian is a dual citizen of the United States and Italy. 

Katherine O'Donnell - Head of Seed Conservation and Plant Health

Katherine coordinates the Global Seed Conservation Challenge. This project focuses on engaging the botanic garden community to work towards Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation by conserving seed of threatened taxa not already in ex situ collections. She also coordinates the International Plant Sentinel Network, a global network which provides an early warning system to new and emerging pests and pathogens. Katherine previously worked at the Herbaria in Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Edinburgh and has also worked as a Research Assistant at the Millennium Seed Bank.


Helen Miller - Head of Education and Vocational Training

Helen leads BGCI's public engagement activities including LearnToEngage - a new modular blended learning course for botanic garden educators,  BigPicnic - BGCI's Horizon 2020 project focussed on public dialogue around food security and BGCI's  International Congresses on Education in Botanic Gardens. Helen will also take an overview of the vocational training offered by BGCI.

Liliana Derewnicka

Liliana Derewnicka - Education Co-ordinator

Lili supports the running of BGCI's public engagement activities, her role includes being involved in project management of LearnToEngage - a new modular blended learning course for botanic garden educators and BigPicnic - BGCI's Horizon 2020 project focussed on public dialogue around food secruity. Lili is also responsible for maintaining BGCI public engagement websites and communications and supports co-ordination of BGCI's  International Congresses on Education in Botanic Gardens. Lili is lead editor of Roots and produces  Cultivate.


Gail Bromley - Biodiversity Education Officer

Gail Bromley MBE FLS is currently working as the Biodiversity Education Officer for BGCI on 2 EU projects, ‘BigPicnic’  focussing on food security and ‘LearntoEngage’, a training course. Gail previously worked at Kew for c 40 years, initially as a taxonomist, then developing and managing RBG Kew's formal and informal education offer including community engagement. Mrs Bromley co-developed and co-managed, with BGCI, the International Diploma in Botanic Garden Education. An educational consultant, her work includes writing, training, educational programme development and fundraising. She is a director of Botanic Garden Education Network (BGEN) and National Heritage and is an advisor for the Historic Houses Association.

Vivien Isaac

Vivien Isaac - Accounts Officer

Vivien has been with BGCI since 1986 and has got to know our members very well over the years.  She can answer your accounts queries and you can send your membership payments or donations to her!

Liz Smith  - Membership & Administration

Contact me for any information on BGCI membership including how to become a member and paying your subscriptions; I can also help you access our publications and with the advertising of your events and job or intern opportunities.




Noelia Alvarez de Román - Plant Conservation Project Manager

Noelia develops and manages several conservation projects for threatened tree species in the Latin American region for the Global Trees Campaign programme. She also coordinates the Global Conservation Consortium for Rhododendron, a BGCI initiative which assembles a consortium of the foremost Rhododendron experts in the world to mobilise collective action and ensure no Rhododendron species go extinct.

Emily Beech - Conservation Officer

Emily is supporting BGCI's work on the Global Trees Campaign. She is currently working on the world's list of tree species, GlobalTreeSearch, as well as red listing towards the Global Tree Assessment focusing on European trees and Theaceae. She is also involved in promoting the Global Trees Campaign.


Yvette Harvey-Brown - Conservation Officer

Yvette is supporting BGCI’s work on the Global Trees Campaign (GTC) and the Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens (ERA). She is currently working on producing fundraising prospectuses for both of these initiatives, and adding content to the ERA and GTC websites.


Megan Barstow - Red List Conservation Assistant

Megan is supporting BGCI’s work on the Global Tree Assessment. She is currently working on producing global red list assessments for timber species. Megan was previously an intern at the BGCI, assisting in the production of GlobalTreeSearch and still contributes to promotion of the Global Trees Campaign.




BGCI International Staff

Xiangying Wen - BGCI China Executive Director

Xiangying manages BGCI's projects in China.

Based at the South China Botanical Garden, CAS, Guangzhou-Guangdong province.  The BGCI China Programme is working alongside China's botanic garden community to help implement the plan focusing on three major areas they are:

Abby Meyer - BGCI U.S. Executive Director

Abby facilitates public garden plant conservation efforts by improving BGCI's data services and increasing awareness of the resources available to living botanical collections. Prior to joining BGCI U.S., Abby completed the Longwood Graduate Program at the University of Delaware, and worked as a Putnam Research Fellow at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. Abby's office is based in southern California. She currently serves on the Board of the Magnolia Society International, recruits for the Plant Collections Network, and facilitates Earthwatch Expeditions.

Dr. Igor A. Smirnov - Chairman, BGCI Russia

Nikita Mergelov - Assistant, BGCI Russia

Murphy Westwood - Global Tree Conservation Officer

Murphy is based at The Morton Arboretum in Chicago, U.S.A, where she works as a Tree Conservation Specialist. BGCI and The Morton Arboretum have recently signed an MOU for collaborative work on the Global Trees Campaign. In her new role as Global Tree Conservation Officer, Murphy will operate as a US-based representative for the Global Trees Campaign. The Morton Arboretum will take a leading role in undertaking Red List assessments of Oaks, updating and adding to the previous BGCI publication which assessed approximately half of the world's Oak species.

Jean Linsky - South East Asia Botanic Gardens (SEABG) Network Coordinator

Jean coordinates the  Southeast Asia Botanic Gardens (SEABG) Network. She is involved in working with network members to develop and facilitate the regional conservation programme. Jean contributes to the Global Trees Campaign, through project management and is a Research Assistant at the Dr. Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation Center (KBCC), Taiwan, Peoples Republic of China.



BGCI Interns and Volunteers

Simon Barber 

Simon has volunteered with BGCI for 6 years and assists with the publication of "Roots" the BGCI Education e-journal.

Neville Evans

Neville is recently completed a three year Diploma in Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Neville is particularly interested in the flora of the Caribbean and Central America and has establish the Caribbean and Central American Botanic Garden Network which can be found at the following pages:

Luis Roberto Gonzalez Torres - Canada

Luis is from Cuba and currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He is helping BGCI with the translation into Spanish of the Communities in Nature report and will be growing our network of botanic gardens and arboreta in Canada.



If you are interested in gaining valuable experience as a volunteer in the plant conservation sector please contact us at with your current CV and a brief description of your interests.

To contact a specific member of staff or intern by email, our address format is - First name, period, second name followed by