More than Biological Collections: The Importance of Botanic Gardens, Herbaria, Museums, and Zoos for the Conservation of Tropical Biodiversity
Monday, July 11, 6:30PM
Scientific knowledge produced at academic institutions is critical to inform conservation action. However, information stemming from scientific studies is not always translated and incorporated into policies or practical guidelines nor is research by academic institutions reaching non-academic audiences. Botanic gardens, herbaria, museums, and zoos (biological collections) sit at the intersection of academia and the public, which enables them to serve as champions for biodiversity conservation and outreach. Although traditionally viewed as places focused on collecting and documenting biodiversity, most institutions with biological collections now host exhibits aimed at raising awareness for conservation issues, such as species loss or climate change. Because of the taxonomic expertise of staff in these institutions, many of them have taken the lead to assess the threats of different taxonomic groups through the IUCN Red List, and many have local outreach projects with direct conservation impact in the communities where they are located. Two examples are the Global Conservation Consortia for Magnolias and Oaks, which bring together scientific experts and conservation practitioners around two important tree taxonomic groups. There is still, however, much to be done: in the tropics, collection-based institutions are often understaffed and underfunded, limiting their ability to maximize their impact for conservation in biodiversity hotspots, where it is most needed. In this session, we will discuss how to increase participation of collection-based institutions within ATBC and how ATBC can support these institutions so they can capitalize on their strategic role as advocates for local biodiversity and bridges between academia and the public. We invite anyone to participate in this informal conversation!