Education and the Future

Kings and religious authorities are no longer the patrons behind botanic gardens, so those in charge of them must convince the public, governments, and industry to support the gardens and their work. This is why botanic gardens today devote so much effort to education and public information projects. Some are high tech like the interactive rain forest displays in the Climatron at the Missouri Botanic Garden. Others, like the 12-acre adventure site in the New York Botanical Garden, introduce children to ecological concepts through activities full of action. Still others aim to make botanic gardens places where pleasure goes hand in hand with research and learning. Kew has an ice-skating rink in winter, Montreal's Jardin botanique (Figure 7) offers twilights full of Chinese lanterns in the fall, gardens everywhere advertise their spring flowers and their summer splendor to lure people to see their plants, and hear their message. The effectiveness of these educational efforts may mean the difference between governments setting ecologically sound policy or not. Without public recognition that habitat protection and biodiversity are important, governments in democratic countries may drag their feet while in countries where decisions are made from the top down, those in power would not be convinced of the need to do the same.

Figure 7 The Bog and Marsh Garden at the Jardin botanique in Montreal presents wetlands plans - many of them endangered -in a series of basins and ponds. Photograph by M. Soderstrom.

See also: Astrobiology; Biodiversity; Coastal Zone Management; Coevolution; Forest Management; Invasive Plants; Invasive Species; Stream Management.

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