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Noah´s Arcs of the Anthropocene: the role of Botanic Gardens in Caribbean plant conservation


Noah´s Arcs of the Anthropocene: the role of Botanic Gardens in Caribbean plant conservation

Mon, July 11, 14:00 - 16:00 hrs, Room: 303


Santiago Madriñán, Chad Washburn

Caribbean Botanical Gardens comprise important institutions for research and are an unparalleled resource in conserving the regions highly endemic flora.

The Caribbean Islands comprise one of the five top Biodiversity Hotspots on earth. Despite their small land area, the Caribbean Islands support one of the highest numbers of globally threatened species of any hotspot in the world. The islands support a native flora of about 11,000 species of seed plants, 72% of which are endemic. The region is characterized by a multicultural and multilingual society, inhabited by at least ten ethnic groups, speaking ten different languages, divided into 16 sovereign countries and 24 overseas dependencies. Local economies are classified amongst the world´s “low income”, even as dependencies of “high income” countries. The Caribbean basin is extremely vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters, where extreme weather events such as hurricanes and earthquakes are common. Deforestation by means of land-use-change to agriculture and urban development, particularly of coastal ecosystems driven by its main economy (tourism), is rampant. In the last decades forest area has been reduced to less than 30%, with only 4% of primary forest remaining. The Caribbean flora has been a major source of botanical riches for western science and horticulture ever since Columbus’ voyages, as well as early explorers such as Plumier (15th C.), Sloane (16th C.) and Jacquin (18th C.). Unfortunately, up to the 21st C. the region still suffers from uneven practices of Access and Benefit Sharing. The peoples of the Caribbean have a vast knowledge and harbor a high esteem of their local flora and its benefits, not only for their economic value but as part of the ecosystem services they provide as part of pristine or restores ecosystems. Local institutions such as Botanic Gardens in the region, struggle to maintain research programs and the staff that envisions them, to catalogue, study and conserve these botanical riches. This symposium will address the history of botanical exploration in the Caribbean region, highlighting a somber heritage of colonialism which unfortunately still reigns today. It will report on the long-lasting efforts by botanical institutions in studying the local flora, particularly in orchids and Cuban plant endemics. Highlights of restoration projects through propagation and establishment of native plant species in Haiti will be presented. And will show how a program of domesticating forgotten and endangered Caribbean plants, can aid conservation efforts though their introduction to tropical horticulture.

The Jardín Botánico Nacional, La Habana, Cuba and its role in conservation of Cuban botanical heritage
Rosalina Berazaín*

Contrasting efforts in plant conservation in Hispaniola
Betsaida Cabrera García*

The importance of indigenous species in the restoration project in Haiti
William Cinea*

Half a century of Caribbean orchid research and exploration at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Tatiana Arias*

Conservation of forgotten and endangered Caribbean plants through domestication for tropical landscaping
Maria Contreras*

Decolonizing botanical sciences in the West Indies: Hispaniola case
Yuley Encarnacion Pineyro*


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