‘Plants for the Plant’ project launched by Botanic Gardens Conservation International

‘We can’t afford to lose plant species diversity’

Plants are essential for all life on earth and play a fundamental role in regulating the global climate. Plants give colour and inspiration to our lives, with gardening being hugely popular. They provide us with food, medicine, timber and a whole host of natural products. Yet the world is losing plant species at an alarming rate; at least one third of all wild plant species are threatened with extinction.

“Plants in all their shapes and sizes, known and unknown, are fundamental to our lives and to our enjoyment of our open spaces” says British TV presenter Chris Beardshaw.  “But we need to be aware that plants are not just here for our benefit; we must recognise the role they play in complex habitats such as rainforests, prairies, woodlands and grasslands around the world. We cannot afford for plants to be threatened and made extinct – we need a cohesive directive from the highest level of worldwide government.”

‘Plants for the Planet’ is the new online campaign launched by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) to raise the profile of plants in the biodiversity debate and demonstrate popular support for plant conservation. BGCI wants to show world leaders that people care about and recognise the fundamental importance of plants. BGCI will use the campaign to persuade governments to adopt a strong Global Strategy for Plant Conservation for the coming decade. Politicians, prominent figures from conservation and many members of the public have already joined the campaign.

Sara Oldfield, Secretary General of BGCI, said: “If we don’t take this opportunity then we could lose our best hope for finding a cure for cancer, the next miracle diet or a plant with drought-defying qualities that could save hundreds of millions of people from starvation. The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation needs to be strongly endorsed and implemented. ”

In the 2010, the UN Year of Biodiversity, governments will gather in Nagoya, Japan for a meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) where they will be asked to ratify the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. The strategy includes 16 targets to be met by 2020 that have been developed to address the greatest challenges facing plant species, including climate change and the global trade in endangered species.

Support for the campaign will help BGCI send a strong message to governments that countries must act now to halt plant extinction. To support the campaign, visit www.plantsfortheplanet.com

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Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) is a plant conversation organization linking over 600 botanic gardens in over 120 countries in a shared commitment to conservation, sustainability and environmental education. BGCI aims to mobilize botanic gardens and work with partners to secure plant diversity for the well-being of people and the planet.

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