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Shaping Conservation Policies

Plants and fungi, the Gardenís two areas of expertise, are fundamental to all life on Earth: plants for oxygen, food, fuel, fibers, and medicines; fungi for foods and medicines and for their role in breaking down organic matter and recycling nutrients to sustain future generations of plants and animals.

But despite the planet's undeniable reliance on plants and fungi, more than 100,000 plant species and 97% of the world's 1.5 million fungi have not yet been described by scientists. Compounding this problem is the fact that, through habitat destruction, species are becoming extinct before their characteristics and relationships are understood.

While researchers work to explore biodiversity, it is disappearing before their eyes. That is why all Garden scientists are involved in the protection of the regions where they have dedicated years of painstaking study. They do this through an international network of collaborative ties with governments, traditional leaders, conservation organizations, and fellow scientists, and by providing the data on which all informed decision-making must rely.

Much of the Garden's biodiversity conservation work employs two models: setting aside pristine lands for protection, and establishing a balance between preservation and the sustainable utilization of renewable resources.

Dr. Scott Moriís research in central French Guiana, one of the worldís last large tropical wilderness areas, exemplifies the approach of habitat preservation. The government of France is using information generated by him and his French collaborators to provide the rationale for establishing a large biological reserve in this area.

In the second model, Dr. Christine Padoch works with the United Nations University and international teams of scientists to analyze income-generating resource management practices suitable for small landholders. Her project site in Amapa, Brazil, was cited last year by the UN Global Environment Facility as an outstanding example of how biodiversity conservation and village development can be linked. Because the preservation of important ecosystems depends on the advocacy and protection by local organizations, Garden scientists also dedicate themselves to the development of botanical science institutions and specialists worldwide. Conservationists, policymakers, industry, and scientists benefit greatly from the Gardenís commitment to building the human, methodological, and technical capacities of other institutions.

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To discuss how your contribution can advance our work in conservation, please contact:

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