Researchers explore scientific solutions for threatened plants

By Nina Jungman

Collaborating with the University of Copenhagen, scientists from FIU and the National Tropical Botanical Garden hosted a tropical plant conservation workshop at the International Center for Tropical Botany at The Kampong.

participants at plant conservation workshop

The objective was to create an international network that addresses threats to plants in tropical biodiversity hotspots. More than 1,300 species of plants and animals are considered threatened or endangered in the United States alone. Following the center’s goals of exploration, conservation and education, the group focused on identifying collaborative research projects on coastal forest degradation, human/ecosystem interactions and threatened rare plant species, particularly in the Caribbean and Pacific islands.

The challenges posed by biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse in terms of natural capital, cultural heritage and provisioning of ecosystem services remain consequential. The World Economic Forum listed them among the top 10 global risks in 2015.

The three-day meeting kicked off with presentations from participants, including faculty from FIU’s departments of Biological Sciences and Earth and Environment. Working in small groups, the scientists developed collaborative research projects. Center Director Chris Baraloto said he hopes initiatives such as this one can kick-start plant conservation projects worldwide.

The International Center for Tropical Botany at the Kampong is a partnership between FIU and the National Tropical Botanical Garden. The center is part of FIU’s Institute of Environment.