GSPC Target 15

Objective I: Plant diversity is well understood, documented and recognized

Objective II: Plant diversity is urgently and effectively conserved

Objective III: Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner

Objective IV: Education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and importance to all life on earth is promoted

Objective V: The capacities and public engagement necessary to implement the Strategy have been developed


Achievement of the targets of the GSPC will require considerable capacity building, particularly to meet the need for conservation practitioners trained in a variety of disciplines, with access to adequate facilities.

As one of the cross-cutting targets of the Strategy, this target is central to the achievement of the other targets and requires access to, and appropriate dissemination of, skills, tools and relevant information.

Capacity building should be based on national needs assessment, but given the geographical disparity between biodiversity and available expertise, it is clear the greatest needs for the capacity building are in the mega-diverse developing countries of the global south.

Download an introduction to Target 15 here.

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Botanical expertise is required to address current and future grand challenges and issues for society, including climate change mitigation, land management and wildlife habitat restoration, understanding the provision of ecosystem services, management and control of invasive species, and the conservation and recovery of rare species.

Given the importance of plant science, the decline in the teaching of botany and plant sciences in schools and universities around the world is of particular concern.

In 2010, BGCI(US) and partners carried out a survey to assess the status of the capacity available in the US to conserve and manage native plant species and habitats. In 1988, 72% of the nation’s top 50 most funded universities offered advanced degree programs in botany. Today, more than half of these universities have eliminated their botany programs and many, if not all, related courses. Find out more about the survey and read the report here.

Similarly, a recent article in Bioscience Education highlighted the fact that botany degrees are no longer offered in the UK.

An assessment of taxonomic needs has been conducted as part of the Global Taxonomy Initiative and a document on a Draft Comprehensive Capacity-Building Strategy for the Global Taxonomy Initiative was considered during the CBD SBSTTA-15 meeting.

Implementation of this target is related to Target 20 of the Aichi targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:

T20: By 2020, at the latest, the mobilization of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 from all sources, and in accordance with the consolidated and agreed process in the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, should increase substantially from the current levels. This target will be subject to changes contingent to resource needs assessments to be developed and reported by Parties.




Despite the decline in university-level courses in botany and plant sciences, a number of national and international organisations offer training or provide resources to support capacity building in plant conservation.

Capacity building in taxonomy, bio-infomatics and plant conservation for Francophone countries is addressed by the project Sud-Experte Plantes.

With regard to ecosystem restoration, the Society for Ecological Restoration provides information, case studies and shared experiences.

Bioversity International and FAO are active in training related to the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources and agricultural biodiversity.

Opportunities for training in plant conservation are also available at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and other botanic gardens around the world.

Within the framework of the fledgling Biodiversity Technology Initiative under the CBD a gap analysis is currently being undertaken and the Convention already operates an online database on Technology Transfer and Scientific Cooperation which can be searched for entries related to plant conservation.

It is important to note that training people is a long-term investment and there is a need to fully recognise that such investments are lost unless positions are offered and maintained in which trained people can be productive.


The CITES Virtual College provides courses,reference materials and training slides that, although not specific to flora, can provide a strong platform to train Parties on how CITES works. Various CITES Parties have produced capacity building tools to help Parties implement CITES for several key species.

Tools and resources

Please also check in the database of Tools of Resources for Case Studies relevant to this target.



Target 15 ‘The number of trained people working with appropriate facilities in plant conservation increased, according to national needs, to achieve the targets of this strategy.

While there is no global baseline from which progress can be measured, and despite relatively few countries having conducted needs assessments, several global and regional programmes have made progress in increasing the number of trained people in plant conservation. These include training programmes that address the needs of individual countries to enable them to meet their obligations under the CBD, including the GSPC.

Here are just a few examples of organisation’s training programmes

Royal Botanic Kew Science and Education Centre

Kew provides a wide range of training course from horticultural apprenticeships, glasshouse training to Millennium Seed Bank training and International Diplomas. Kew has also recently launched a new MSc in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation, due to start next year. The applicants have comprehensive taught lectures and access to many resources to enhance their study experience (Herbarium, Jodrell Laboratory Kew Library)

Eden Project

The Eden project has a diverse range of training modules and horticultural apprenticeships programs. In addition a Darwin Initiative Programme has been made available to assist capacity in Seychelles for propagation and reintroduction of their endangered flora.

More information here

Chicago Botanic Garden

The Chicago Botanic gardens provides degree and post-doctoral position. The Botanic garden also has graduate schemes and two tailored internships, one focusing on conservation and land use  practice while the other provide training in both in the field and in the laboratory.  

More information is available here

Earth Institute Centre for Environmental Sustainability

The Centre is part of the Colombian University (USA), and since its creation in 1994 is in collaboration with four of the leading institutes in plant research (American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, The Wildlife Conservation Society and EcoHealth Alliance on biodiversity conservation). The centre offers a wide range of post doctoral research topics from sustainability, ecology, plant conservation to coral reef biology. Various summer placements are available to undergraduates wishing to gain experience working on different ecosystem projects based in different countries i.e. India, Atlantic Forest, Brazil and Jordan.

More information is available here

New York Botanic Garden

The garden is renowned for being at the forefront of botanical research and offering a fantastic training in a diverse range of topics (systematic botany, economic botany, and ecology, as well as in service to the scientific community. The Graduate Studies Program is an essential component of the scientific research effort at the Garden. The Botanical Garden's Institute of Systematic Botany and Institute of Economic Botany  work closely together with the graduate scheme and allow the students to have access to all facilities needed to carry out research.

 More information here


BGCI has developed a series of self-learning training modules and a range of other resources that cover various aspects of plant conservation, including Tree Red Listing, Seed Conservation, Access and Benefit Sharing, plant biosecurity and education and awarenss raising.

More information here

CITES Virtual College

 The virtual college provides an introductory training courses for custom inspectors on the identification of Cites Protected plants using the CITES Guidelines. Further courses are also available. The Virtual College provides a training centre of PowerPoint presentation and document. These can either be viewed online or downloaded.

More information here 

Other useful sites offering Education training

Gatsby Plants, IUCN Red List Training, Conservation Training




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