GSPC Target 14

Objective I: Plant diversity is well understood, documented and recognized

Objective II: Plant diversity is urgently and effectively conserved

Objective III: Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner

Objective IV: Education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and importance to all life on earth is promoted

Objective V: The capacities and public engagement necessary to implement the Strategy have been developed

Introduction

Plants are often under-represented in the conservation debate and neglected in efforts to engage the public in environmental action. Furthermore, increasing urbanization and population movements are resulting in a growing disconnect between people and nature, a trend that is especially notable amongst the young.

Plant conservation targets will only be achieved if changes are made at all levels of society, from policy makers through to the general public.

For this reason, communication, education and public awareness programmes are essential in underpinning the GSPC.

This target is understood to refer to both formal and informal education at all levels, including primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

Download an introduction to Target 14 here.

Learn more

It is generally recognized that there is low level of recognition amongst the general public of 'biodiversity' and more specifically, the important role of plants in supporting human well-being. 

In a recent pole (May 2011), on average only 1 in 3 people were able to define biodiversity correctly.

A stakeholder consultation on this target was conducted by BGCI in 2007-2008 in six countries (Brazil, China, Indonesia, Russia, UK and USA). Similar issues were identified across countries. These included:

  • Over-emphasis on animals and neglect of plants in environmental education programmes.

  • Need for increased teacher-training relative to plant diversity.

  • Lack of opportunity to experience nature first-hand.

  • Messages being lost under an overwhelming level of advertising in all media.

Implementation of this target relates to Target 1 of the Aichi targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:

 T1: By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

Implementation

The world’s botanic gardens, which together receive an estimated 250 million visitors per year are a gateway to information on plant diversity. This community has largely taken forward the education and public awareness elements of this target.

Almost all botanic gardens are involved in education and many focus specifically on educating children. 

BGCI’s education programme provides a wide range of tools and resources to support the education work of botanic gardens.

This target relates to the CBD programme on Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA).

Citizen science

Engaging the public in new and innovative ways is key to raising awareness of plant conservation issues. One example is the increasing popularity of citizen-science projects focused around plant monitoring in changing climates. examples of such programme include Project BudBurst in the USA, the Phenology Recording System of the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network and Nature's Calendar in the UK.

Tools and resources

Please also check in the database of Tools of Resources for Case Studies relevant to this target.



Biodiversity barometer (2437KB)

The Union for Ethical Biotrade's (UEBT) Biodiversity Barometer provides an annual overview of biodiversity awareness from three different perspectives: the consumer, industry and the media. 

Download

Interpreting plant collections (1416KB)

This chapter from the Applied Plant Conservation Training Manual produced by Denver Botanic Gardens and the United States Botanic Garden provides some basic guidance for those who are new to the work of interpretation. 

Download

Making your garden come alive

Interpretation provides the communication link between a botanical garden and its visitors. This book provides practical guidelines on how to develop an interpretation programme in a botanical garden. 

Download


Status

Raising public awareness of the importance of plants and the role they play is vital if we are to meet plant conservation targets.  It is recognized that engaging the public in new and innovative ways is key to raising awareness of plant conservation issues. Some relevant initiatives include:
-    Global Barometer on Biological Diversity
-    Citizen Science Programs -Natures Calendar &Track a Tree (UK) Project Budburst (USA)
-    Botanic Gardens -
-    Social Media- Twitter, Documentaries,
Due to a lack of baseline information, progress towards this target is difficult to measure on a global scale.
The implementation of this target makes an important contribution to Aichi Target 1 (Awareness increased) and in the framework of the GSPC is considered cross-cutting and applicable to all other targets.

The Global Barometer on Biological Diversity provides an important global overview of how biodiversity is perceived and understood. The tool works on the basis of annually survey conducted in participating countries. In the period of 2009-2014, 38,000 people in 13 countries were surveyed on biodiversity awareness. It revealed that biodiversity awareness has grown by 12 % (55-67%) although only a small percentage of countries have participated.  The hope is more developing countries will join and awareness can be increased further http://www.bipindicators.net/biodiversitybarometer.

Citizen Sciences

In 2000 the Woodland Trust and The Centre for Hydrology and Ecology launched Natures Calendar in the format of a website, allowing the general public to voluntarily submit the first sightings of the season in their area. They are now 50,000 people across the UK involved with the Nature's Calendar survey. Records such as the first snowdrop, budburst in trees, butterfly and garden bird sighting, are among the most common. The websites provides a starter pack with detailed information on the different species you can record information on.

Vigie-Nature (http://vigienature.mnhn.fr/resultats) is the French equivalent of Natures Calendar, aimed at recording information on butterflies, birds, bats dragonflies and wild plants. More than 10,000 participants have taken part from all over France creating important long-term dataset which can be used for scientific research.

Project Budburst (USA)  (http://budburst.org/aboutus) started by the Chicago Botanic is a citizen science project in which individuals monitor the change to timing in seasonal events such as budburst, flowering, leaf fall and leaf colour. Collecting such information is vital in understand how different plant groups and species are responding under the climate change drivers.  

Botanic Gardens

Like most botanic gardens around the world, RBG Kew and Wakehurst Place play an active role in ensuring effective plant communication, education and raising public awareness through a variety of avenues (festivals, guided tours, family activities, adult education and schools programmes).From the period 2011-2013 a total of 10,000 participants took part in Kew’s hands-on activities and learning sessions for families on plant diversity, science and conservation. The Great Plant Hunt (Kew’s website) received over 150,000 unique visitors. The site encourages children to participate in nature walks, in and around their school grounds.

 

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