In situ Conservation
In situ means "on site", so in situ conservation is the conservation of species diversity within normal and natural habitats and ecosystems. (By comparison, ex situ conservation focuses on safeguarding species by keeping them in places such as seed banks or living collections.)
Because our natural systems face many threats, conserving them is not easy, and must use many techniques. This include the development, designation, and management of protected areas, tackling alien invasives, habitat restoration and re-creation, and working with communities to promote sustainable plant use and land management. It is important that ex situ and in situ conservation are designed and practiced to reinforce and complement each other. For example, the collections of botanic gardens can provide a source of material for habitat restoration.
Policy tools describes the many policies and targets relevant to botanic gardens. For more information, visit this section or follow the links below.
- Article 8 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is especially relevant to botanic gardens working for in situ conservation.
- Targets 4, 5, 6, 7 & 10 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) provide specific targets relevant to in situ plant conservation.
- The International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Conservation (IABGC) interprets all the relevant policies targets for botanic gardens. Section 2.5 focuses on in situ conservation, but all sections are relevant, especially 2.4 (integrated conservation) 2.11, 2.8 (sustainable use of biodiversity).
Botanic gardens are active in maintaining and managing areas of natural vegetation. It is important that the skills and expertise of all relevant parties are recognised, from professional foresters to indigenous peoples. This can help us to ensure wise management of our natural resources.
- The Experience of Foresters in Re-establishment and Habitat Restoration
- Indigenous and local knowledge
The links below are journal articles that illustrate specific case studies of botanic gardens managing areas beyond their walls.
- Preservation of species: The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi, U.S.A.
- Habitat Management: the Strategy to Preserve the Biodiversity of the Singapore Botanic Gardens Rain Forest
- The Tresor-project (French Guiana) of the newly established Regional Office of BGCI in The Netherlands
When managing and restoring natural areas, It is important to minimise habitat fragmentation, as this increases 'the edge effect', and is strongly linked with species extinctions.
Restoration is defined by the Society for Ecological Restoration as: "The process of intentionally altering a site to produce a specified historic ecosystem. The intent of the work is to emulate the natural structure, function, diversity and dynamics of a defined, indigenous ecological system".
Botanic gardens are able to develop, implement and participate in plans and actions aimed at the recovery of species and the restoration of ecosystems and their diversity. In particular, botanic garden collections can provide an essential pool of plant diversity to provide plants for restoration, and their skills in botany and horticulture can assist in the suppression of aliens and the management of habitats.
These journal articles illustrate some restoration work by botanic gardens.
- Atlantic Rain Forest Restoration at Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden Research Institute
- Seedling Propagation and Growing of Atlantic Forest Species: who is doing what?
- Conservation of Carnivorous Plants and Bog Communities at Atlanta Botanical Garden, Georgia, U.S.A.
Restoration and re-creation of vegetation types within garden and bioparks
Some gardens, such as that at Belo Horizonte (which contains 600,000m2 of cerrado and cerradão within its total area of 1,450,000 m2), include large areas of natural or naturalised land. This is in situ conservation within the garden!
- Alice Springs Desert Park - Australia's First Biopark
- Botanic Gardens - The Belo Horizonte Zoo-Botanic Foundation Natural Reserve, Brazil
Other gardens, restore or even re-create vegetation types within the garden - this can a basis for restoration of vegetation outside of the garden, as well as serving educational and scientific purposes.
Tackling Invasive Alien Species
Much of in situ conservation in concerned with combating habitat loss. However, invasive alien species are the greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. They are an especially grave problem on islands. Botanic gardens can develop and implement control measures for invasive alien plants that pose great threats to biodiversity and advise their constituency on control measures.