Queens Botanist to Argue that Gardeners Hold the Key to Safeguarding Humanitys Future

Thursday 29 October 2015

• Leading scientist to state during Royal Horticultural Society lecture that, due to human intervention, nature can no longer sustain itself • Professor Stephen Blackmore believes governments alone cannot fix the global environment • Audience to hear that the mindset of gardeners will be central to preserving our long-term future

A leading scientist will argue that government action alone cannot secure a sustainable future for plants and the planet, when he delivers the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) John MacLeod Annual Lecture on 29 October 2015.

Professor Stephen Blackmore, who holds the title of The Queen’s Botanist in Scotland and was formally the Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, will state that individuals cannot afford to be passive and defer responsibility to governments.

He will add that we cannot wait for others to take action to protect the planet, and that individual gardeners, gardening charities and the international network of botanic gardens are better suited to protecting the world’s flora.

During the lecture he will argue that the impact of humanity on nature’s life-support systems is so extensive that there is now no part of the planet beyond our influence.

Professor Blackmore believes that the scale of the negative influence humans have had on nature is so great that it is now valid to think about the planet as a global garden, in which it will be our individual and collective actions that will determine how well nature can meet our needs for future.

Speaking ahead of the lecture, Professor Blackmore said: “It’s often said that nature can take care of itself, but that’s no longer true if we want to live in a world that can support us.

“We can’t simply ask the government to fix the global environment, they couldn’t do it. The planet can be safeguarded only by each of us changing our behaviour in positive ways that will make a difference to the quality of life in the future.”

The changes Professor Blackmore is proposing are just as applicable to large gardens as to urban windowboxes, for they involve gardeners seeing themselves as part of a bigger picture in which the choice of plants they grow has an effect multiplied millions of times across the world.

In practical terms, this would mean gardeners:
• actively choosing plants that will support the widest diversity of other species, including pollinators and other garden wildlife;
• making urban landscapes much greener by planting garden and street trees to absorb pollutants, reduce excess temperatures and improve the quality of the built environment;
• not paving over front gardens, instead ensuring that there is an area of green as well as a parking space;
• gaining health benefits for themselves and their families through gardening;
• joining forces with and support their local parks, gardens and gardening societies, if they don’t have a garden of their own.

Professor Blackmore added: “The more you can grow in your individual patch, garden or windowbox, the more you can help planet Earth. For me the key insight is that it was the cumulative actions of 7 billion people that created the environmental challenges we face today, and it will be the individual actions of those same people that will get us out of the position we’re currently in.”


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Garfield Myrie in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3060 or email garfieldmyrie@rhs.org.uk

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About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

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