How will plants respond to the predicted changes in temperature and precipitation from a warming climate? On Thursday, March 26, from 9 – 4:30 at the Microsoft New England R&D Center in Cambridge, five noted botanists and ecologists will present the state of New England’s plants; the historical patterns and current evidence of climate-induced adaptation, migration, and loss; and strategies for conserving and managing plant species and natural communities in the face of climate change. Hosted by New England Wild Flower Society. Symposium fee is $100, and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Register on line at http://www.newfs.org/sym.
The special guest is Dr. Paul Smith, who will speak on the State of the World’s Plants and the Development of Global Systems for Their Conservation and Use. Dr. Paul Smith, newly appointed Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, was the head of the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from 2005 to 2014. During his tenure, the MSB partnership expanded to 170 institutions in 80 countries working together to preserve seeds of all the world’s plants. He is a plant ecologist with expertise in seed conservation, afforestation, and habitat restoration, especially in Africa.
The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization regularly issues two reports—“State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources” and “State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture”— accompanied by global action plans. The approaches to conservation and sustainable use in the action plans offer valuable strategies for those of us in the plant diversity community. Dr. Smith is the recipient of the Society’s inaugural Founders’ Medal.
Also speaking is Garden Club of the Back Bay favorite Dr. Elizabeth Farnsworth, on State of the Plants: Challenges and Opportunities for Conservation of the New England Flora. She is Senior Research Ecologist, New England Wild Flower Society, and is the author of the Society’s “State of the Plants” report on the status of and threats to native plants and ecological communities in New England, which will be officially released at the symposium. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the botanical journal Rhodora and co-led the development of Go Botany, the Society’s award-winning online guide to the regional flora for teaching botany.
New England Wild Flower Society is releasing a comprehensive, peer-reviewed report that, for the first time, presents and analyzes the most up-to-date data on the status of plants on the New England landscape. From these data, we can discern increases and declines in both rare and common species across all six states. We identify hotspots of rare plant diversity and discuss factors that foster this diversity. We document the primary ecological and anthropogenic threats to both rare and common species. We discuss activities and initiatives by New England Wild Flower Society and its partner organizations in the New England Plant Conservation Program to conserve and manage rare plants and habitats throughout the region. We articulate a research agenda to bridge gaps in our knowledge of plant species and ecological communities and develop a framework for protecting the viability of thousands of species that together comprise our diverse and vibrant flora.
Other presentations will be Whither New England? Scenarios for the Future and Perspectives from the Past, given by Dr. David R. Foster, Director of the Harvard Forest, Identifying Species at Risk from Climate Change and Considering Alternative Conservation Strategies, with Dr. Dov F. Sax, Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University, and Options: The Key to a Resilient Future, with Andy Finton, Director of Conservation Programs for The Nature Conservancy.