Global Botanic Garden Congress, Melbourne, Australia

December 27, 2022 Jennifer Ramp Neale, Ph.D. , Director of Research & Conservation

In September, I had the privilege of attending the 7th Global Botanic Garden Congress held in Melbourne, Australia, hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. The meeting, organized through Botanic Gardens Conservation International, brings together botanic garden professionals from across the globe who are all passionate about plant conservation. This is the second Global Congress I have had the opportunity to attend. 

This was my first trip to the Southern Hemisphere, and I landed on the first day of spring. After spending a few days adapting to the time change, I kicked off the conference with a full day field trip exploring local sites. We started with a trip to the Geelong Botanic Garden. Their newly finished Australia garden beautifully showcases the varied ecosystems of the continent. 

The afternoon consisted of several stops in the Anglesea Heath and a lunch break at a coastal golf club with wild kangaroos dotting the driving range. We were graciously hosted by the local Anglesea botanical club where we spied tiny terrestrial orchids, many varieties of Acacia and many additional plant genera that were all new to me. I enjoyed getting a feel for the ecosystem on our walk to the coast overlooking Bell’s Beach. The field trip provided for an opportunity not only to see the local flora and areas outside of Melbourne, but to meet and get to know other conference attendees.

The conference kicked off at the Melbourne convention center with a ceremony by local aboriginal representatives, who welcomed 500 delegates through song and dance. The three days of meeting were filled with talks, poster presentations, workshops and conversation focused on the theme “Influence and Action: Botanic gardens as agents of change.” There were talks highlighting conservation horticulture, education and engagement around conservation and climate change, and global strategic planning on how to enhance our collective impact for plant conservation. 

As a participant in the Ecological Restoration Alliance Symposium focused on the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, I presented on our Chatfield Farms riparian and meadow restoration projects. I also presented a rapid-fire talk on the North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Alpine Plant Conservation, encouraging attendees to use our strategy as a model for protecting vulnerable ecosystems in their region. 

The meeting was over too quickly, and I wish I had the opportunity to learn and network more, but that is the nature of a good conference. It leaves you exhausted and thirsting for more. 

I stayed on in Australia for a week after the conference ended. I was lucky enough to camp in the temperate rainforest with koalas walking through our campsite, to hike along the Great Ocean Walk and to see the Twelve Apostles. I put my toes in the Southern Ocean, saw platypus in the wild, visited the little penguins on Philip Island and made sure to spend time at both host gardens: Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne and Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the congress. I have new ideas of how to connect Denver Botanic Gardens to the broader conservation community for greater impact and reinforced professional connections with colleagues from across the globe. I look forward to the next Congress to be held in Singapore in 2024. 


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