China approves establishment of its first national botanical garden

(People's Daily Online) 17:03, January 10, 2022

China recently approved a plan to develop its first national botanical garden in Beijing, marking a new phase in the building of a national botanical garden system to strengthen the ex-situ conservation of endangered plant species.

The Beijing Botanical Garden (Photo/Xinhua)

The national botanical garden has a planned area of about 600 hectares and will be divided into two areas, according to an official reply from the State Council to a request for the garden’s approval.

Using the existing resources of the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS) and Beijing Botanical Garden, the national botanical garden will be built with Chinese characteristics and meet international standards. It is now home to more than 15,000 species of plants under ex-situ conservation. The IBCAS has two state-level key laboratories, three CAS key laboratories, and the largest herbarium in Asia, making it a world-renowned comprehensive research institute. That’s one of the reasons why China’s first national botanical garden is situated in Beijing.

When it comes to ex-situ conservation, top research talents and high-end research platforms are important factors, said Long Chunlin, a professor with the Minzu University of China and former chief engineer of the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species in Southwest China in Kunming, capital city of southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

The Beijing Botanical Garden (Photo/Xinhua)

The national botanical garden will focus on plant science research, biodiversity conservation, the development of core technologies for plant resource utilization, the ex-situ collection and conservation of plants, and the breeding of rare and endangered plant species, according to the country’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Beijing also enjoys a unique geographical advantage when it comes to building China’s first national botanical garden. With an appropriate climate and numerous wetlands, the city is able to grow temperate, subtropical and even tropical plants, in addition to cold- and drought-resistant plants, said Li Junqing, a professor with the School of Ecology and Nature Conservation at Beijing Forestry University.

Botanical gardens play an important role in the ex-situ conservation of plants. China has about 200 botanical gardens featuring various plants and trees, where 60 percent of the country’s native plant species are being maintained under ex-situ conservation.

Taking into account regional variation in climate and vegetation, China will set up a national botanical garden system for better plant diversity conservation and sustainable use. The system is expected to help the country gradually bring more than 85 percent of its native wild plant species and all key protected plant types under ex-situ conservation.

China is one of the world’s countries with the highest amount of plant diversity, providing habitats for over 36,000 types of higher-level plants.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)


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