Missouri Botanical Garden receives $3 million from Monsanto Company toward World Flora

June 05, 2012

(ST. LOUIS): The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Mo., U.S.A. has received a generous three-year, $3 million gift from Monsanto Company to support its work on the development of a World Flora Online. The World Flora is an international collaborative effort involving the leading botanical institutions worldwide to develop the first-ever comprehensive, authoritative and accessible online resource for the world's approximately 400,000 known plant species. The World Flora Online will improve access, analysis and management of critical botanical information for policy makers and planners, biodiversity conservation practitioners, botanists, ecologists, geneticists, other scientists and users of plant data worldwide. The support of Monsanto Company will fund the Missouri Botanical Garden's contributions to this ambitious endeavor from 2012 to 2015.

"The proposed World Flora Online will be an invaluable, accessible treatment of the world's plant diversity that will act as a baseline to support global efforts to identify, safeguard, sustainably use and manage plants for humankind," said Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden. "The importance of Monsanto Company's funding for this international endeavor cannot be overstated. With the creation of the online World Flora, we are one step closer in having the tools in place to halt the loss of plant species worldwide by the year 2020, an essential goal outlined by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity."

The project will include the building of an open-access web-based system for data collection and a subsequent web portal for the display, query and export of this data for scientific and governmental research and conservation. Upon completion of a first phase of the project, it is anticipated that data on some 100,000 plant species, including names, descriptions, geographical distributions and conservation status, will be available with open access to users around the globe.

"As an agriculture company focused on developing sustainable crops through breeding, biotechnology and agronomics, we recognize the importance of investing in analytical tools that can be used to promote global plant diversity like the World Flora Online database," said Jan Holloway, senior vice president, chief of staff and community relations for Monsanto. "Monsanto is a proud supporter of the Missouri Botanical Garden and its mission to sustain the world's plant resources."

In 2002, the United Nations (U.N.) Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). This was subsequently updated in 2010 with the aim of halting the loss of plant species worldwide by 2020. The U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity is the most widely supported international environmental agreement and involves most of the world's governments. The updated GSPC includes 16 targets to be achieved by the year 2020; Target One of the GSPC states the need for "An online flora of all known plants."

Responding to this 2020 target, in early 2012 four of the world's leading plant science institutions agreed to collaborate to support the development of the World Flora Online. The Missouri Botanical Garden, The New York Botanical Garden, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew signed a Memorandum of Understanding detailing their intent to work together to spearhead the development of a World Flora Online. They will be joined in this work by a large number of other botanical institutions worldwide collaborating to deliver this vital new initiative to support conservation and sustainable management of the world's plant resources.

"The four collaborating institutions bring decades of botanical information and expertise to this project, but will clearly need additional data and insight from botanists around the world," said Dr. Bob Magill, senior vice president of science and conservation, Missouri Botanical Garden. "Monsanto's gift will permit us to focus our botanical and informatics staff on the delivery of this project, which would not have been possible otherwise."

The Missouri Botanical Garden is at the forefront of the urgent struggle to discover, understand and conserve the world's botanical diversity as species and habitats rapidly diminish. With scientists working in 35 countries on six continents around the globe, the Missouri Botanical Garden has one of the three largest plant science programs in the world and a mission "to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life." Today, 153 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display.

Monsanto Company and Monsanto Fund have been among the most generous benefactors of the Missouri Botanical Garden over the past 40-plus years, contributing about $10 million for numerous key capital, science and education projects during that period. Monsanto made the lead gift during the Missouri Botanical Garden's Partnership Campaign to name the Monsanto Center, the Garden's state-of-the-art plant science facility, which opened in 1998. Monsanto's generous support during the Missouri Botanical Garden's Stewards of the Earth campaign is reflected in the Canopy Climb in the Doris I. Schnuck Children's Garden. Monsanto has participated in the development of the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening and the Ridgway Visitor Center, the construction and renovation of the Lehmann Building and the establishment of the Butterfly Garden at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House (a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden). Monsanto has also supported education programs including the "Power of Plants" and school programs.

"We are thankful to Monsanto Company for their support of the Garden's important mission through the years, and for their continued recognition of the vital plant science and conservation work that we undertake," said Wyse Jackson.
NOTE: Digital images available by request or via Flickr. Download media materials at www.mobot.org/media.

About Monsanto Company

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: www.monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter® at www.twitter.com/MonsantoNews, on the company blog, Beyond the Rows at www.monsantoblog.com, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

About the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden's mission is "to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life." Today, 153 years after opening, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display. Learn more at www.mobot.org.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.