Published: 19 November 2012
Plant Heritage
We look at the work being done by the charity Plant Heritage. Charity president Alan Titchmarsh also explains the importance of their goals and plans for the future.
Plant Heritage is the registered charity formerly known as the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens [NCCPG]. It is now an internationally recognised organisation for its work for the conservation of cultivated plants.

National Collection

Its flagship operation is the ‘National Collection’ scheme of which there are now more than six hundred and twenty throughout Britain. Each collection is a ‘living plant library’ dedicated to a specific genus. They safeguard these invaluable resources of genetic plant material that are available for research and propagation purposes.  

The collection holders are the custodians of plant material that could prove to be of great importance within the whole science of biodiversity, conservation and the reintroduction of threatened species.  Almost half the collections are in private ownership and include allotments, back gardens and large estates. Collections are also held with local authorities, universities, horticultural colleges, arboreta and botanic gardens plus commercial nurseries. Some collections are growing at properties owned by English Heritage and the National Trusts of both England and Scotland.

Global Challenge

At a recent press event, Plant Heritage announced that it has taken up the challenge laid down by the United Nations Environment Programme to ensure that the genetic diversity of cultivated plants is safeguarded by 2020. For the first time cultivated plants and plants with socio-economic and cultural value have been included in new international targets through the strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 – 2020.

Mike Buffin, Plant Conservation Committee Chairman.
Plant Heritage is one of the organisations discussing the creation of UK Biodiversity Indicators for Plant Genetic resources and has been included in the reporting of the UK response to the Global Strategy for plant conservation.

Speaking at the announcement, Mike Buffin, Plant Conservation committee Chairman said ‘’The new global targets now place an importance on cultivated plants along with their wild equivalents, Plant Heritage will help spearhead the conservation of the UK’s great heritage of garden plants’’
He continued "The research findings from the Threatened Plants Project which Plant Heritage set up in 2009 will be integral to this new role and will enable us to provide a fuller picture of cultivated plant conservation and diversity within the UK".

"Forward Thinking"

Alan Titchmarsh, Plant Heritage President.
Plant Heritage President, Alan Titchmarsh commented on the announcement that he hoped this news would help more and more people realise the value of the organisation and the work it does in ensuring conservation of garden plants ‘’Conservation is not about nostalgia, it is about forward thinking. It is wonderful the Plant Heritage has taken this lead to help the global move towards protecting the future of our gardens as we know it’’

Plans for 2013

There is also a large scale initiative being organised by Plant Heritage to celebrate their 35th anniversary in 2013. During next year they are planning to open thirty five National Collections at different venues around the country. There will be more details about this coming soon.
For further information about the work being carried out, and the people involved in this great organisation please see their website.
Reported by Chris Allen  

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