Holy blooming botanics, Batman!

Botanical gardens get bookish with conference

Concordia is organizing a conference on sustainability and botanical garden biodiversity in partnership with the Montreal Botanical Gardens on Oct. 23-25.

“Leaders in Conservation: Botanic Gardens and Biodiversity in the 21st Century” by the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre will feature local and international scholars, experts and leaders in the field of botanic garden biodiversity conservation to discuss the role that botanic gardens, zoos and natural science museums play in the socio-environmental governance of biodiversity.

The conference claims to be the first international scholarly event on botanical gardens, eco-citizenry and socio-environmental governance and is run by principal conference organizer Dr. Katja Neves and co-organizer and director of the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre, Dr. Peter Stoett.

Dr. Neves has been researching and working in biodiversity for over 20 years, spending much of the ‘90s on the transition from whale hunting to whale watching. This will be the first time that a biodiversity conference brings the social sciences and humanities together to discuss the issues surrounding biodiversity.

“Botanics have their own conferences, but they are very specific to botanics,” Neves said. “What we’re hoping to do is to bridge the world of scholars and botanics.”

The conference is just the beginning for Neves, who is looking at long-term goals for sustainability and biodiversity.

“I have three goals,” said Neves, “An immediate goal, the conference—here scholars and botanic workers start a productive dialogue; a medium goal—to produce a website and create a sort of webinar so the public who didn’t attend the conference can have access and create a greater depth of conversation; and a long term goal—a forum for access to ideas, debate and resources for scholars, botanic workers and citizens alike.”

This conference has been two years in the making and started with Neves researching biodiversity and sustainability. Once she presented the idea of a conference, she spoke with the Botanical Gardens and met with Stoett, who supplied her with the resources to make it possible.

“It’s a collaborative effort and it is quite unorthodox,” explained Neves. “Botanic workers must trust scholars, and scholars must be humble enough to take it in. I’m hoping this changes the relations between the two.”

The conference will be in three different locations during its run; Thursday Oct. 23 will be on the seventh floor of the Hall building, Friday Oct. 24 will feature at the Botanical Gardens and Saturday Oct. 25 will be at Loyola Campus. Although registration is filled in some cases, there are still tickets to the gala dinner at $25 for students and around $50 for professionals.

Day one will consist of a panel discussion about the meaning of biodiversity and finding practical solutions. Day two will have presentations from representatives of Botanical Gardens around the world, what dilemmas they’ve encountered and how they’ve dealt with them. Day three will be a more hands-on debate. The audience is encouraged to join in on the discussion on a variety of topics including eco-citizenship and gardening.

“Citizens don’t need to be passive to biodiversity, they can be actively engaged. You don’t have to be a millionaire to make a significant contribution, it’s about empowerment, about learning how [biodiversity] should be done and how it should be legislated.”

Register and find our locations at leadersinconservation.eventbrite.ca

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