IrisBG has been present at EuroGard since 2009 in Helsinki for EuroGard V and although these conferences always have had an especially friendly atmosphere, it was something extra to attend this year - our first in-person conference after the Covid-19 pandemic and during a time of war in Europe.
Despite these circumstances, more than 170 delegates from European (and American) gardens attended the 5-days conference in Budapest, Hungary from May 16-20th. I think we are not alone in leaving the conference with a lot of inspiration, ideas and hope for the future.
All delegates, day 1 of the conference. Courtesy of Wuu Kuang Soh, The National Herbarium of Ireland.
Thanks to all organisers and especially thanks to the speakers and all participants for sharing and providing lots of food for thought. We are impressed by all the great work you are doing, spanning from the education and engagement of small children to research studies on plant conservation and efforts to better prepare for climate change.
How can we help?
We are grateful that we were able to attend a wide array of presentations and workshops and chat with so many of the attendees at our booth, over coffee breaks and during the social events.
A common recurring theme was sharing, collaboration and engagement. Sharing of plant material and seeds, sharing of knowledge and collaboration across borders but also between gardens within borders.
Sharing your collection data and material is one of the main benefits of keeping high-quality digital plant records, as it opens up for you to make the most of the time and effort spent on keeping your data correct and up to date. With IrisBG you can already invite in more of your staff, students and volunteers to collaborate in working with the records since you can control authorization levels and protect parts of the records. We also have several data quality steps in place, such as validation of nomenclature against IPNI and ways to prevent erroneous data input.
🌱 Did you request a feature improvement or addition at the conference? We have included several of them in our upcoming release. Follow the topic The Latest Version of IrisBG to never miss an update.
IrisBG Index Seminum (Web Store)
One of the workshops we attended was on the new BGCI seed exchange platform, for which IrisBG is a collaborator. It will of course be easy for anyone with IrisBG to export their data to the new platform, and with time, the goal of BGCI is to be able to handle the orders back from their platform as well.
IrisBG already has a complete setup to prepare seed catalogues (Store Management module). The catalogue can either can be printed and published on paper or published and shared digitally on a site for other gardens to view the catalogue and place orders (Index Seminum, Web Store module). The order will be synced with your stock and managed in IrisBG.
View our Index Seminum directory to see some public examples by gardens such as Bonn University Botanic Garden, Utrecht University Botanic Gardens, Gothenburg Botanical Garden, the Botanic Garden of Smith College, Stavanger Botanic Garden and more.
What role has IrisBG in working with GSPC and GBF?
As mentioned in the official conference conclusions, we have not been able to reach all the goals set for the 2020 GSPC (the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation) and GBF (global biodiversity framework), yet great progress has been achieved and the work will be continued with the guide from a new global action plan for 2021-2030 (Conclusion 1). See report of progress towards the targets of the GSPC 2011-2020 (pdf).
For a foundation, a solid collection management system is crucial for participating in the global efforts for plant conservation. IrisBG can be an important asset in this work as we already contain checkups to verify taxonomy and an array of fields needed to ensure responsible exchange of data material such as automated creation of IPEN numbers.
Mobilize the public through citizen science!
Another workshop we attended with great interest was on Citizen Science organized by BGCI (Suzanne Sharrock) and Baiba Pruse. We got to hear from a selection of gardens and learn about how they currently are using citizen science projects at their gardens. It's impressive to see the creativity involved in creating and realizing projects like this, making the general public more involved and aware of nature and plants specifically whilst also aiding the work of the botanical gardens.
One project we'd like to mention is that of Meise Botanic Garden called "Doe Dat" where through an online citizen science platform they have been able to get help from citizens in the massive project of digitalizing their herbarium. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, they had more than 700 individuals diligently transcribing the text written on the herbarium sheets. Visit www.doedat.be to learn more and see their progress.
Smithsonian Gardens Plant Explorer, Nature's Notebook Phenology Trail
Many of the American members of the IrisBG community are already utilizing their Garden Explorers to host citizen science projects like Nature's Notebook phenology trails. We hope to see more of these projects overall in the IrisBG community. Browse the Garden Explorer directory.
Offical conclusions from the conference
Suzanne Sharrock, Director of Global Programmes at BGCI presenting the EuroGard IX conclusions
Below are the 5 conclusions of the conference as presented by Suzanne Sharrock from BGCI at the closure of the conference.
- It is acknowledged that botanic gardens come from very different roots but since 2002, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation [red. GSPC], and its update in 2010, has provided a focus and primary framework to guide botanic gardens' activities in strategic and practical contributions to plant conservation.
- While is it clear that the GSPC targets have not been achieved in full, presentations made during this congress illustrate the good progress that has been made in implementing the strategy.
- The congress unanimously supports the continuation of the GSPC in the context of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF) as a contribution to the achievement of the vision of living in harmony with nature by 2025.
- The congress looks forward to the publication of the new European Action Plan for botanic gardens that will guide our work to address future challenges aligned with the post-2020 GSPC and GBF.
The congress notes with concern the increasing negative impacts on plant conservation actions and research caused by constraints to the exchange and sharing of plant material as a result of the implementation of the regulations of both Access and Benefit Sharing and biosecurity. The negative consequences of these issues need to be communicated to national and regional ABS and biosecurity focal points, and solutions - such as proposed by the new plant material exchange presented at this conference - should be explored.
The presentations made during this conference illustrate the expanding range of activities in which botanic gardens are involved, including for example:
- in situ conservation actions in partnership with land manager and local authorities
- seed banking and the use of seeds in integrated ex and in situ restoration projects
- the use of exotic plants in collections as sentinels in pest and disease monitoring
- urban greening projects aiming at increasing biodiversity in cities as well as enhancing resilience in the face of climate change
Given the increasing challenges posed by global change, extreme weather, geophysical events and war, it is of great importance that botanic gardens put in place risk management strategies to safeguard their personnel, visitors, collections and infrastructure.
The theme of this congress is Where People and Plants Meet and we have seen some inspiring examples of the education and engagement work carried out by botanic gardens across Europe. However, in order to further engage we have to continue to build our relationships with local communities, including through citizen science projects, ensuring that our messaging is clear and consistent.
Whole-day trip, first stop Soroksár Botanical Garden.
To view a selection of images from the trips and social events for the conference from the National Botanic Garden of Vácrátót, Soroksár Botanical Garden and ELTE Botanic Garden, visit and follow our IrisBG instagram.