Habitat destruction, invasive species, climate change and other threats to plant diversity are requiring increased conservation efforts. Priority is appropriately given to in situ con- servation, but the important contribution that ex situ conservation can make is increasingly being recognised. In Finland, extensive seemingly intact natural areas have so far led authorities to con- sider ex situ conservation activities largely unnecessary. Botanic gardens, with estimated living collections of 80 000 plant species worldwide, cultivate valuable plant material that can be used in recovery and reintroduction programmes. Recently, gardens all over the world have started to sur- vey their collections. The results to date have revealed some very valuable collections but also highlighted inadequate databasing, narrow genetic representation and various genetic problems. As a part of an EU Life+ funded initiative, 4 Finnish botanic garden collections were investigated in order to find nationally threatened vascular plant species of known wild origin. Accessions were assessed for their potential use in future reintroduction programmes by ranking the quality of origin data and genetic intactness. Seventy-seven accessions from 56 vascular plant target taxa were found cultivated as living plants, representing 18% of Finland’s nationally threatened taxa. The findings of this Finnish survey are similar to studies completed for botanic gardens elsewhere showing that there are deficiencies in intraspecific and within-population diversity. However, the accuracy of origin data and genetic intactness of the accessions were comparatively high. This sur- vey forms the basis of the current development of a national plant ex situ action plan.
Fields of Science
- 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology