Botanic Gardens Conservation International

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Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) is a plant conservation charity based in Kew, London, England. It is a membership organisation, working with 800 botanic gardens in 118 countries, whose combined work forms the world's largest plant conservation network.

Founded in 1987, BGCI is a registered charity in the United Kingdom,[1] and its members include the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, as two of its key supporters. The founder and director from 1987 to 1993 was Professor Vernon H Heywood. He was followed in 1994 by Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson (as Secretary-General) who led BGCI till 2005 when Sara Oldfield succeeded him.

BGCI's patron is HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. Lady Suzanne Warner was Chair of BGCI from December 1999 - December 2004. She received an OBE in the Queen's 2006 New Year's Honours for her services to plant conservation. [2]

Dedicated to plant conservation and environmental education, the charity works to support and promote the activities of its member gardens. Its official stated mission is to "mobilise botanic gardens and engage partners in securing plant diversity for the well-being of people and planet."

As a global organisation BGCI has projects in a variety of different countries, with major ongoing projects in China[3] (where half of the wild magnolias are threatened),[4] North America, the Middle East and Russia. Two of its major projects are the creation of on-line searchable databases listing the world's botanic gardens (Garden Search) and plants in cultivation among participating botanic gardens (Plant Search).

On 18 January 2008, Botanic Gardens Conservation International (representing botanic gardens in 120 countries) stated that "400 medicinal plants are at risk of extinction, from over-collection and deforestation, threatening the discovery of future cures for disease." These included Yew trees (the bark is used for cancer drugs, paclitaxel); Hoodia (from Namibia, source of weight loss drugs); half of Magnolias (used as Chinese medicine for 5,000 years to fight cancer, dementia and heart disease); and Autumn crocus (for gout). The group also found that 5 billion people benefit from traditional plant-based medicine for health care.[5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Botanic Gardens Conservation International, Registered Charity no. 1098834 at the Charity Commission
  2. ^ "OBE for Lady Suzanne Warner". BCGI. 
  3. ^ "Farmland to revert to forest in China's green plan". newscientist.com. New Scientist. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  4. ^ "Magnolias face 'perilous future'". bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 1 April 2007. 
  5. ^ "Medical plants 'facing threat'". bbc.co.uk (BBC News). 19 January 2008. 

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