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Plant Care & Management

The work of zoos and aquariums extends beyond animals; BIAZA members also do a lot of important work with plants.

Why plants are important to animals and vice versa

Plants and animals play a crucial role in each other's lives. Many plants depend on animals to transport their seeds and pollen, helping them to spread and germinate. In turn, plants provide animals (including humans) with shelter, medicine and food.

How zoos work with plants

As well as being used for feeding animals, and in gardening and landscaping, plants are used in zoo animal enclosures to recreate those animals' natural habitats as closely as possible.

Research and conservation

BIAZA members not only work hard to conserve plant species within zoos (ex situ), but also carry out field conservation work (in situ).

Many BIAZA zoos are involved in research and conservation related to UK native plant species. For example, Paighton Zoo has studied the biodiversity of whitebeam (Sorbous devoniesis) and strapwort (Corrigiola litoralis) - both UK native species.

BIAZA members also carry out research and conservation projects related to foreign plant species. For example, researchers from Flamingo Land - working on the collection's Udzungwa Forest Project - have discovered an entirely new species of tree.

A number of BIAZA members also hold national collections as part of the Plant Heritage National Plant Collection scheme, run by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG). The scheme aims to preserve a broad collection of a single group of plants in hope for the future.

For example, Chester zoo has one of the best collections of carnivorous plants in the UK. Most of the major genera are present, including Venus flytrap (Dionaea), sundews (Drosera) and butterworts (Pinguicula).

Education

BIAZA members help raise awareness about plants by running various activities, courses and lectures. For example, Paignton Zoo has a Tree Biology and Structure course, which teaches people about horticulture and arboriculture.

BIAZA has a Plant Working Group (PWG) which discusses all aspects of plant research, conservation and education. It addresses issues that are relevant to the keeping of plants in BIAZA collections and plant conservation in the wild.

Find out more about some successful BIAZA plant projects.




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