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Botanical Bridges Congress 2022, The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

Botanical Bridges Congress 2022, The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

Building Botanical Bridges

The Botanical Bridges Congress aims to foster collaboration among botanical gardens, botanic garden enthusiasts, and research centers interested in the Caribbean and Central American region. The region is blessed with extraordinary plant diversity, featuring unique species found nowhere else. Yet, this richness faces serious threats, including habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change. To safeguard this invaluable heritage, it's crucial to forge connections between institutions working on plant conservation. Collaboration among botanical gardens, research institutions, and local communities is essential. These congresses enable the sharing of knowledge and resources, helping us develop strategies to address the threats. Together, we can ensure the survival of this remarkable plant diversity for future generations.

One notable achievement stemming from the Botanical Bridges Congress is the formulation of the Plant Conservation Strategy for the Caribbean Region. This strategy represents a collaborative endeavor involving regional leaders and is in harmony with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), as endorsed by the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) during the 2011–2020 period. Currently, it is in the final stages of development, poised to create a comprehensive framework for plant conservation. This framework intricately integrates and supports the objectives outlined in the Convention's Global Biodiversity Framework for the years 2022 to 2030.

The Botanical Bridges Congress is led by the Caribbean and Central American Botanic Gardens Network (CCABGN), host organizations past and present, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). The Network was founded to acknowledge, support, and promote the work of botanic gardens in the Caribbean and Central American region. It fosters a collaborative environment where knowledge, resources, and experiences are shared. CCABGN honors the efforts of its members and empowers them to protect the flora of the region.

The coordination of the Network is a joint effort between Naples Botanical Garden (NBG) and BGCI. In 2019, Naples Botanical Garden, Florida, US and BGCI signed a partnership agreement to enhance collaborative efforts in support of the botanic garden community in the region. In 2022, NBG appointed a coordinator to assist the CCABG Network development. 

BGCI coordinates efforts to enhance regional networking and scale up technical networks by facilitating, coordinating, and supporting the consolidation and functioning of botanic garden networks.

The Botanical Bridges Congress promotes the exchange of experiences and innovations in conservation, education, and research to solve common challenges faced by Caribbean and Central American botanic gardens and associated research institutions. The Congresses have been held in four cities: Panama City in 2016, Havana in 2018, Santo Domingo (which was postponed due to COVID-19), and Eleuthera, The Bahamas in 2022. These regional network gatherings help to revive connections between the network members and provide an opportunity for capacity building such as the dedicated training course focused on seed conservation techniques delivered in Panama City.

Visit BGCI for news and more information about the region.

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