A New Look at Rare Plant Conservation- Nov. 6 -SB Botanic Garden Symposium

Can 2,300 Rare Plants Be Saved? Nov. 6 Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium Explores the Issues

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2015 Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award, Dr. Peter White, a botanist with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Few people think of botanic gardens as leaders in conservation, but Dr. White is credited with redefining the scope of botanic gardens to emphasize conservation, sustainability, and their role as a healing interface with nature. The award will be presented at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s annual Conservation Symposium on Friday, November 6, from 10-4pm at the Fleischmann Auditorium. The public is invited to attend with ticket prices from $25 to $50.

031313 kathryn with phaceliaThis year’s symposium, Saving Rare Plants: What Will It Take to Meet the Growing Challenge? explores the challenges and opportunities presented by 2,300 rare and imperiled plant species in California, which represent 35% of CA native plants. Rare plant conservation will be approached from all angles, genetic to landscape, by a panel of conservation leaders representing universities, botanic gardens, nonprofits, and federal agencies. The audience is invited to participate in the final panel discussion with a question and answer period.

“As a leader in research and conservation of native plants, the Garden presents the Prizlaff Conservation Award to recognize global trailblazers in the field,” said Dr. Steve Windhager, Executive Director at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. “The symposium connects the public to leading researchers who might otherwise only be accessible in an academic or professional setting.”   The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is an active research facility that has been working to understand and preserve California’s unique biodiversity for nearly a century, and serves as a resource for scientists all over the world. 

“Botanic gardens are visited for their beauty and awe-inspiring plant displays. What is seldom seen by visitors is the important science and conservation work going on at these institutions,” says Dr. Denise Knapp, Director of Conservation and Research at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  “Increasingly, botanic gardens are playing a more prominent leadership role in conservation, which can be seen throughout exciting new projects at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden,”  

The keynote speaker and award recipient, Dr. White, served as Director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG) from 1986 until his retirement in 2014. Dr. White guided the garden through a period of exciting changes and growth. The NCBG was one of the first gardens to enact policies aimed at reducing the risk of exotic pest organism introduction in 1998, and was presented with a Program Excellence Award in 2004 by the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta.

Currently a professor at the University of North Carolina, Dr. White has published over 100 articles, chapters, and books on an astounding array of topics, including:  plant community dynamics, patterns of biodiversity, the design and management of nature reserves, and conservation ethics.  The distribution and biology of rare plant species will be the focus of his keynote lecture at the Garden’s Conservation Symposium on November 6th.   He illustrates how botanical gardens can play an important role in conservation and sustainability, with their horticulture, education, and conservation functions working together.


The five other conservation leaders speaking at the Symposium are:

  • Dieter Wilken, former Director of Conservation, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: Conserving Threatened Species by Understanding their Life History;
  • Naomi Fraga, Director of Conservation Programs, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden: Rescuing California’s Rarest Plants at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden;
  • Kathryn McEachern, Research Plant Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey, WERC, Channel Islands Field Station: Uncovering the Ecological Secrets of the Channel Islands’ Rarest Plants
  • John Knapp, California Islands Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy: Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again: A Systematic Approach to Reintroducing (Presumed) Extirpated Species Back to the California Islands;
  • David Ackerly, Professor of Integrative Biology, University of California Berkeley: Climate Change and Conservation: Visualizing our Future.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium

Friday November 6, 10:00 to 4:00 pm

Fleischmann Auditorium at SBMNH

$50 general public/$40 members/$25 students (includes lunch)

For ticket information, visit www.sbbg.org or call (805) 682-4726, ext. 102.


The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium is generously sponsored by Union Bank and supported by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

The Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award, established in 2007, honors this former Garden Trustee’s lifelong commitment to conservation. The award serves to inspire others to understand the importance of conservation, take action, and help the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden reach its plant conservation leadership goals. 












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