Saving Our Plants Through Ex Situ Conservation

As landscape architects and human beings, Clouston Design Studio is deeply passionate about the fate of our planet and conserving our environment. Therefore, we have written this post to foster a conversation on how to save our endangered plants. Read below to find out one technique which is Ex Situ Conversation and please comment or email us if you would like us to share about any topic.


What is Ex Situ Conservation?

Ex-situ conservation is derived from the word “off-site”. Ex-Situ conservation is a method of protecting endangered species or living organism outside its natural habitat. It involves human control where it has been modified by the alternation of the living environment, reproduction pattern and captive propagation. According to goal 8 of the GSPC, at least 75% of endangered plant species are in Ex-Situ conservation, with at least 20% eligible for recovery and restoration programs.


Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, United Kingdom

What are the benefits of Ex Situ Conservation?

A fascinating example of Ex-Situ conservation is in the millennium seed bank in the United Kingdom, which is the first of its kind, plans to store 25% of the world's plant species by 2020 (www.kew.org/science-conservation/collections/millennium-seed-bank) and many other major seed banks have ambitious goals. Low storage costs mean that several genetic individuals of each species can be preserved and separate collections of multiple wild populations can also be stored when appropriate. However, the quality of seed bank collection varies, with some suffering from poor viability and struggling to represent the wild population's genetic diversity.


Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, United Kingdom

How do we manage Ex Situ Conservation?

The simplest Ex-Situ management technique for endangered plants is to cultivate them in botanical gardens, arboretums, and similar facilities in 'living collections'. However, growing numerous trees to represent a species' complete genetic diversity can take an extensive area, whereas live specimens of shorter live species must be handled carefully to discourage inbreeding, hybrids or garden conditions. Therefore, there is an immediate need for botanical gardens to step from the mindset of just a stamp collection to collecting for conservation purposes only. Networking between gardens in the same climate zone can help with the containment of space, as can the safe site method used by the Royal Botanical Garden of Edinburgh international conifer conservation program. The sites involved include public parks, golf courses, hospitals, and private lands to cultivate endangered conifers.


Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom

Overall, Ex-Situ conservation remains a significant act of saving our endangered plants. Therefore, it is vital for us to be aware and help cultivate a culture where Ex-Situ conservations can be a healthy new norm.


We hope that this post was beneficial for all in ensuring a brighter future for the next generation and generation now. We invite readers to email us regarding any topics you would like for us to write about. Till then, stay safe and spread love!



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