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Gardening in a Changing Climate: Climate Change & NYBG

 The Native Plant Garden at NYBG; photo by Ivo Vermeulen
The Native Plant Garden at NYBG; photo by Ivo Vermeulen

The New York Botanical Garden is an advocate for the plant world. Driven by this mission, the Garden’s Board and staff have created one of the world’s most comprehensive plant research and conservation programs, which includes fieldwork to discover new species, active collaborations to promote forest and habitat protection, and plant molecular biology.  

The ultimate goal of conservation initiatives at NYBG is protection of plant species, habitats, and ecosystems from degradation and extinction—thereby reducing the negative consequences for human well-being and the biological diversity of the planet. The first prerequisite for protecting plant species, habitats, and ecosystems is identifying those species at risk of extinction. Armed with this information, Garden scientists and collaborators work to develop sustainable management plans for protecting at-risk species and ecosystems. Solutions often involve understanding what conservation measures can be effective in a particular place, at a local level.

NYBG leads a number of conservation efforts throughout the globe .  Recently, Brian M. Boom, Ph.D., Vice President for Conservation Strategy; Director, NYBG Press and Science Outreach; and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany at NYBG, authored several posts on the NYBG Science Talk Blog in conjunction with COP21 Paris.  These posts highlight several of the projects that NYBG is involved with.  As Negotiators Debate Climate Change in Paris, Some Nations Already Feel the Impacts of a Warming World addresses Garden projects in the Pacific, and A Biological Strategy for Cooling a Warming Planet highlights the idea of using natural biological processes to take carbon out of the atmosphere.  As Dr. Boom writes, "Botanical gardens have an important role to play in the overall effort to combat climate change because they have great expertise in growing trees and other plants and in teaching people about their importance."

Closer to home, Citizen Scientists working in the NYBG Thain Family Forest collect data alongside NYBG staff.  Phenology data from the Forest is an extremely valuable tool that can be used to track changes related to climate.  The Thain Family Forest is the largest uncut expanse of New York’s original wooded landscape. The Forest remains a magnificent reminder of the beauty and resilience of nature in the face of complex human-caused disturbances. To preserve the Forest for future generations the Garden manages invasive species, plants native plants, and performs research.

Sustainability and Climate Change Program: What the Garden is Doing

Since its founding over 100 years ago, The New York Botanical Garden has been dedicated to preserving and protecting the environment. As central to its mission, the Garden acts as a responsible steward of its 250-acre landscape; teaches the public about the value and workings of the natural world; explores the benefits that plants provide to humans around the globe; helps to conserve land resources; uses science to study and better understand the plant kingdom, plant diversity, and the need to protect it; and so much more.

In this new century and new millennium, the Garden has expanded its commitment to the environment. Through its Sustainability and Climate Change Program, the Garden is identifying and reducing its carbon emissions; revising its grounds maintenance and horticultural practices; managing and removing invasive species in the Forest; engaging volunteers in the collection of climate change data; and further educating the public about the major environmental issues of the day and how to help address these problems.

By marshaling its diverse resources and deep experience as an environmental leader, the Garden is helping to lead the way to a better, more sustainable future through the work of its Science, Horticulture, and Education divisions.

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NYBG Audio Tour

While on the grounds, use the audio tour Greening the Garden: Climate Change and Sustainability at the Garden to learn more about the actions the Garden is taking to mitigate the effects of climate change.