Gardening in a sustainable way allows us to meet many of our own needs. But he can do much more than that. In our eco-friendly gardens, we have the power to be part of the solution to much bigger global problems.
One of the biggest issues we are currently facing is the massive extinction of species and the staggering loss of biodiversity brought about by human society and anthropocene-induced climate change. Many plants, as well as animals, are critically endangered. And as gardeners, it is interesting to note that we can potentially play a role in securing the future of plant species in our territories by growing them in our gardens.
One in five plants in the world is threatened with extinction – more than 4,000 in the United States alone. New research from Conservation Biology shows that more than three times the number of plants are extinct in the United States and Canada than previously thought. Seven of the 65 plants listed in this study are only now found in the botanical garden collections. Without dedicated cultivators cultivating these plants, they would be completely extinct.
Cultivate and propagate endangered native species
Growing rare and endangered plants is not the best option for beginners, but gardeners with extensive horticultural experience under their belt could help conserve the species by growing and propagating some suitable species at home. It is an extremely useful way to help combat biodiversity loss and protect native plants in your area.
Horticulture for endangered species involves careful experimentation and management, as well as excellent documentation of results. It’s a specialized subject that requires adherence to strict guidelines to be useful. But if you are a keen gardener, perhaps you can contribute to plant conservation and plant science.
If you are an experienced master gardener looking for a new passion project, starting a conservation garden could be your next step. There is a fascinating world in plant conservation that awaits you, should you choose to go this route.
Sponsor plant conservation
The Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) has a Rare Plant Finder tool, which, if you live in the United States, can be used to find out which plants in your area are endangered and which environmentalists are working to preserve them. existence.
Even if you can’t grow rare or endangered plants on your own property, you can still support others in the conservation work they do. In the United States, you can sponsor a rare plant in your area through the CPC.
Cultivate native plants, create native habitats
Even if you cannot cultivate and preserve particularly rare and endangered native plants, you can still provide the habitats and environmental conditions that can allow native plants to thrive. Creating native plant gardens, especially those that provide key ecological niches, can help maintain biodiversity and restore plant richness to our communities.
And, of course, the more native plants we cultivate and the ecological niches we create in our gardens, the more it will also help to preserve not only the native plants themselves, but also the native wildlife in your area that depend on these plants. to survive. .
Conservation gardens are not just about pure plant science. We need rigorous scientific work to protect our biodiversity, but ordinary gardeners of all walks of life can play their part, too. By creating a garden filled with native plants, which attracts an abundance of native wildlife, you can help address biodiversity loss in a small way.
We must also preserve and protect plants in their natural habitats, in situ. But in many cases, native habitats are threatened, by grazing or other agricultural practices, construction or development, or by other threats. Our gardens can be strongholds against environmental destruction, providing a safe sanctuary for native plants, including some that may be endangered.