What is it?
The story of 2018 was undoubtedly climate change. The past year was the earth's fourth warmest on record. We saw many of public gardens impacted by extreme weather events. Extreme rain hit North Carolina, wildfires burned large tracts of land in the West (including Ventura Botanical Gardens), and in the Northwest, air quality - from nearby wildfires - was among the worst in the world.
Increasingly, science and historical trends are able to illuminate the causal relationship between climate change and increased intensity and frequency of disasters. These trends coupled with site-specific data can provide gardens with insights on potential impacts to specific buildings, transportation route disruptions, and landscape devastation. Resilience planning can be hard to justify, particularly when changes may be gradual, but necessary now that numerous gardens and communities have been affected by climate change.
"I think the era of gardens just solely being places of relaxation, and beauty, and enhancement to societal culture are over, I think the responsibilities that public gardens hold to society are growing greater by the day, and I think that public gardens need to look beyond living collections. They need to look beyond traditional educational models, they need to look beyond traditional community outreach to figure out how they are going to become more meaningful, and more well-rounded contributors to the benefit of their communities, and I think that they should also look at ways that they can address the community needs on more practical levels as well, instead of esoteric."
~Deputy Director of Horticulture and Urban Agriculture, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
"There's a very good basic operational need to understand climate change and adapt to it. If you're taking the step of adapting to it hopefully you're on board for mitigation as well. I think that's crucial to get across in messaging issues like water conservation, damage from changing frequency and severity of storms, all of these things have a direct consequence to the operational realization of the institution."
~Head of Science, Royal Botanical Gardens
Where to Begin?
Preparing for climate change is one of the most important things a garden can do to safeguard plant collections and people from hazards. The ability of a garden to anticipate, adapt, and flourish in the face of climate change will help preserve plant species. Climate Adaptation & Risk Management attribute focuses on adapting to rapidly changing ecosystems. The socio-economic impacts of climate change continue to grow incrementally with each event. Higher temperatures, changing landscapes, rising seas, increased risk of drought, fire and flood, stronger storms with greater storm damage, increased heat-related illness and disease and higher economic losses are all directly related to climate change. Climate Adaptation & Risk Management will not prevent the effects of climate change, but can drastically reduce the impacts upon people, valuable infrastructure, and plant collections.