Plant care & management
The work of zoos and aquariums extends beyond animals; BIAZA members also do a lot of important work with plants.
Landscaping and Design
Planting is an important element of enclosure design and layout. Careful planting within animal exhibits can be used to recreate their natural environments, not only providing a suitable back-drop, but giving the animals shelter, enrichment and sometimes also food. The ornamental gardening and landscaping of the public areas of our zoos is also important and can transport our visitors to the far-flung exotic homes of the animals they are seeing, contributing to a truly immersive experience.
As a significant part of many zoo and aquarium animals' diets, many zoos cultivate and harvest plants on-site to ensure their animals receive high quality feed throughout the year. Examples can include willow and bamboo to provide browse, hay and fresh-cut grasses for grazers and a range of vegetables. Many collections even make their own silage to provide feed through winter months.
BIAZA collections increasingly manage their sites for native species, protecting on-site habitats where possible and planting to support local wildlife, such as wildflower patches and hedges. A number of BIAZA members also hold national collections as part of the Plant Heritage National Plant Collection scheme, which aims to preserve plants 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, sundews and butterworts.
Many BIAZA zoos and aquariums are involved in plant research both at home and abroad. For example, Paignton Zoo has recently studied the biodiversity of whitebeam and strapwort - both UK native species. The National Marine Aquarium is leading an initiative to protect UK seagrass beds, whilst researchers from Flamingo Land - working on the collection's Udzungwa Forest Project - have discovered an entirely new species of tree in Eastern Africa.
BIAZA members help raise awareness about plants by running various activities, courses and lectures, supporting training for staff and the public on various aspects of horticulture and arboriculture.
BIAZA has a Plant Working Group (PWG) which supports BIAZA member collections in all aspects of plant husbandry, research, conservation and education.