Knowledge Gathering and Critical Analysis

Define issues and organize by topic. Gauge current knowledge, views, and practices through baseline survey. Gather technical materials for online Study Hall. Formulate different courses of action and possible consequences.


In this page:

What's at Stake?


Results of Baseline Survey




> What's at Stake?

Convention on Biological Diversity

In 1992 two legally binding conventions were submitted for international consideration as a part of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of these conventions was meant to stop the loss of biological diversity around the world by legally conferring control over natural resources to the countries that held them.  Since implementation in 1993, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has had significant impact on the public garden community.  Gardens and botanical organizations interested in collecting germplasm from international locations are required to seek prior informed consent from the designated national authority in the host country. This national access permission is not always easy to obtain, and in many countries it can be difficult to determine who the national authority is that can grant this access. Often, these agreements place restrictions on the use of these plants, requiring the same compliance from those receiving propagules. Another tenet of CBD guidelines states that any benefits derived from the use of natural resources should be shared equitably with the country of origin. Further complicating negotiations with international collaborators, the United States remains one of only three countries that have failed to ratify the CBD agreement. Non-compliance can carry legal repercussions, let alone ethical considerations, for public gardens and those entrusted with their governance.



The Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture, is tasked with safeguarding American agriculture by regulating the importation of plants and plant parts. APHIS has launched a new program in its efforts to help counter the escalation of new, catastrophically destructive pests being introduced.  Until recently, the agency’s quarantine “Q-37” regulations categorized imported plant taxa as either prohibited (not allowed) or restricted (allowed under certain conditions). This differed from regulations for fruits and vegetables where importation is prohibited until the completion of a pest risk analysis.  A new third category for imported plants for planting lists taxa whose importation is Not Authorized Pending Pest Risk Analysis (NAPPRA).  The parameters consider the plants as pest pathways and the plants’ origin, and includes lists of potential pest plants as well as genera known to serve as hosts for regulated pests. A Pest Risk Analysis (PRA) is not automatic and must be requested. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) instituted NAPPRA procedures years ago, however it applied different criteria and have listed fewer plant taxa. It is currently in the process of re-aligning its program with the US. Since implementation of NAPPRA began in the States last June, the lists have grown to well over 100 taxa, including numerous major plant genera grown in public gardens.  Issues are still being resolved concerning capacity for analyzing an increasing number of taxa, expected duration taxa will remain on list, and what will be the impacts on those who import new germplasm for evaluation, conservation, display, and distribution. No one wishes to be responsible for the introduction of the next emerald ash borer, Phytopthera ramorum, or Asian longhorned beetle. Public gardens however should keep informed of this rapidly developing issue, weigh in sharing their expertise during periods of comment before proposed changes become law, and consider a possible new role in assisting the government in protecting its nation’s flora and economic crops. 


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> People


Target the issues, establish Steering Group, plan logistics, and host components of the National Issues Forum.

Pam Allenstein, North American Plant Collections Consortium Manager, APGA


Kevin Conrad, Woody Landscape Plant Germplasm Repository Curator, US National Arboretum



Steering Group:

Members selected by National Issue Forum Organizers focus on content, APGA community engagement, and results. The Steering Group’s mandate is to outline the issue which creates the framework for the group’s agenda. Group members initiate and guide discussion in an electronic Forum, moderate panels during face-to-face Summit and facilitate break-out deliberations.

Scott Aker,  Gardens Unit Leader, US National Arboretum

Ned Garvey, Plant Exchange Office, National Plant Germplasm System, USDA

Abby Hird, Research Associate, Botanic Gardens Conservation International–US 

Bruce Holst, Director of Plant Collections, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Douglas Justice, Assoc Director/Curator of Collections, University of British Columbia Botanical Garden

Karen Williams, Plant Exchange Office, National Plant Germplasm System, USDA

Andrew Wyatt, VP of Horticulture, Missouri Botanical Garden


Subject Experts:

Individuals with expertise and differing perspectives on the issue will contribute technical information including original articles and/or recommended online materials for background reading, participate in electronic discussions to answer questions or provide insights, and serve as panelists during Face2Face Summit. An individual may be asked to provide a keynote address at the Summit and serve as commentator offering observations at its conclusion. Experts may be asked to contribute to and/or edit final report.


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> Results of Baseline Survey

In June - early July 2012, we conducted a formative survey of APGA members to gauge their knowledge, perceptions, and current practices at public gardens related to CBD and NAPPRA. We received 265 responses from individuals in the United States and Canada. A similar survey focused exclusively on the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing is being sent out globally by BGCI this fall. Results of the US/Canadian survey are posted below. 

Survey Results (PDF)


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