China’s second national botanical garden unveiled in Guangdong

By He Linping, Jiang Xiaodan, People’s Daily

China unveiled its second national botanical garden on July 11 in Guangzhou, south China’s Guangdong province, just several months after the first was inaugurated in Beijing.

The South China National Botanical Garden, formerly known as the South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), is one of the oldest botany research institutions in China. It houses plants ranging from tropical rainforest species to those originally growing in alpine and desert areas.

The national botanical garden is committed to the scientific research, species conservation, dissemination and utilization of the plants in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

With a total planned area of 319 hectares, it has 38 specialized gardens for 17,168 classified species of ex-situ conservation covering all plant types in south China.

The garden also houses three research centers, one museum of plant specimens, two national field research bases and three key CAS laboratories. Besides, it is also home to an ex-situ conservation center and a germplasm bank for rare and endangered plant species.

At a breeding center for rare and endangered plant species of the botanic garden, every individual plant’s information is recorded to maintain proper management throughout its life cycle, said Ning Zulin, deputy director and senior engineer of a horticultural center of the South China National Botanical Garden.

Primulina huaijiensis, a species of Primulina, is one of the plant species that has its information registered, Ning introduced.

The plant was firstly discovered by Kang Ming, a researcher of the South China Botanical Garden, in a karst cave in Liangcun township, Huaiji county, Zhaoqing, Guangdong province in 2012. There were only around 200 of them when Kang discovered the species. As of 2021, only a few of them existed in the wild, which indicated that the species was critically endangered.

To enhance the protection of the species, the South China Botanical Garden stepped up its efforts on wild population survey and collection of the species. So far, the garden has realized artificial breeding of the species and established a technical system for its ex-situ conservation, which can breed droves of high-quality seedlings in a short period of time and offer strong support for the reintroduction studies and repopulation of the species.

With the efforts of the South China Botanical Garden, repopulation has been achieved for many plant species. It is reported that the garden now houses 643 species of rare and endangered plants and 337 species of national key protected wild plants.

Besides, the South China National Botanical Garden successfully released 36 rare and endangered plant species into the wild. The museum of plant specimens in the garden collects over 1.15 million specimens from more than 49,000 varieties.

The garden is expected to build an experimental platform for the ex-situ conservation and utilization of plant species, as well as a national demonstration base for nature education and ecological progress, so as to improve its capability in scientific research and science popularization.

In addition, a world-class specialized garden and a featured plant demonstration area that carry the characteristics of garden cultures in south China will be constructed, as a way for the South China National Botanical Garden to explore a management and operation mechanism that conforms to both international practice and domestic conditions.

The botanical garden conserves more than 20,000 species of plants including 6,000 economic plant species. About 95 percent of rare and endangered plants in south China are relocated and conserved in the garden, said Ren Hai, director of the South China National Botanical Garden.

The botanical garden mirrors the constantly improving nature reserve system in Guangzhou, as well as the city’s achievements in biodiversity protection. After decades of efforts, Guangzhou has established a number of nature reserves at various levels and with multiple functions. It now houses 89 nature reserves at all levels covering a total area of around 110,000 hectares.

Li Xiaochuan, head of the Guangdong Academy of Forestry, told People’s Daily that the establishment of the South China National Botanical Garden would not only increase the reputation of Guangzhou, but also create more opportunities for biodiversity protection in south China.

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