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


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.


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. 


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. 


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. 



Plants are of great importance in relation to both mitigation and adaptation to climate change. It will be essential to mobilize support for plant conservation through education and public awareness programmes to avoid mass extinctions in the future. Engaging the public in new and innovative ways is key to raising awareness of plant conservation issues. Examples include the increasing popularity of citizen science projects focused around plant monitoring in changing climates. 



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