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Thursday, February 3, 2005 - 19:30

China's Biodiversity Crisis: How the Legacy of the Early Plant Collectors is Helping to Save China's Depleted Plant Species

Dr. Steve Blackmore

Regius Keeper

Royal Botanic Gardens


The British Embassy Residence
15 Guanghua Lu

Steve Blackmore, the Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, has been passionate about nature and wild places since his early childhood and in the course of his travels has seen the damage caused to the environment by human activities around the world. This has made him increasingly concerned to find solutions to the challenges facing our own species, challenges where wise responses will ensure the best possible world for future generations and where inaction is not an option.

For more than a century, staff from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh have been studying the plants of China, the country with the most diverse flora on Earth. The collections of plants that have been built up by the early plant collectors provide a unique insight into Chinese plants and landscapes stretching back long before the modern era. In China, as everywhere in the world, human activities have impacted adversely on the diversity and extent of natural habitats. A third of all plants around the world are now threatened with extinction and the impact of such a "biodiversity crisis" would make the world a far less comfortable place for humanity. Steve's colleague, Dave Paterson, gave one of our best ever talks in early 2003 about working to replace the depleted plant species of Yunnan. Steve's talk will tell you about the problem China-wide.