Botanic gardens and climate change
Botanic gardens are uniquely placed to respond in a number of ways to climate change - both through actions aimed to mitigate the impacts of climate change and through supporting adaptation responses.
A survey carried out by BGCI indicated that at least 80% of gardens are taking action in some way in response to climate change. Such actions include specific climate change research, modified planting schemes, education and public awareness and reducing their own carbon emissions.
Climate change promises to outpace the ability of many plant species to migrate. As a result, ecological communities may lose species, with some even expected to suffer extinction. One proposed solution to this dilemma is “assisted migration,” in which species would be intentionally transferred outside their historical ranges into locations they could have reached were climate change occurring at a slower pace. Along with other conservation measures, such as seed banking and in situ management, assisted migration could help ensure the survival of many species.
Active discussions on assisted migration have been taking place since around 2005. Moving species to novel areas raises not only ecological, but also judicial, ethical and economical challenges. Which species should we move and when? How can we ensure that the species do not become invasive? How much should we interfere with nature, and is it even legal? Read more here.
A novel approach to assisted migration, has been proposed by researchers at the Missouri Botanical Garden: Chaperoned Managed Relocation. Within such a scheme, botanic gardens would serve as 'transfer points' for the movement of species outside their historical distribution, but into a safe and managed environment where they could be closely monitored and assessed.
Read more about Chaperoned Managed Relocation here.