Environmental professionals promote biodiversity for new and veteran gardeners

The PHS Gardening for Biodiversity Symposium, held during the 2020 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show on March 4th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, featured environmental professionals from around the world to address, educate, and increase awareness on important environmental issues throughout the day.

Hosted as a collaboration between PHS and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation – USA, the day-long program brought together a variety of horticultural experts, environmental advocates, nonprofit leaders, and other notable guests to draw attention to important environmental concerns globally and throughout the mid-Atlantic region. PHS and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation – USA are leading advocates of biodiversity and sustainability. The partnership between the two organizations during the Flower Show elevated both onto a national and international stage to emphasize the importance of addressing today’s environmental concerns.

“PHS’s year-round environmental work includes extensive efforts in sustainability and biodiversity. This symposium was created to present how it is vital for individuals to understand ways they can contribute to the health and well-being of the region and around the world,” said Andrew Bunting, PHS Vice President of Public Horticulture. “PHS was honored to host some of the leading voices in the field at the PHS Gardening for Biodiversity Symposium.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Peter Raven, a US National Medal of Science recipient, kicked off the day with a talk entitled “Biodiversity and Our Common Future,” addressing the issue of extinction and the role of diverse species in our ecosystems and lives. He discussed ways to preserve biodiversity, the degree which efforts have been successful, and how we can do more.

Other notable symposium speakers included Abby Meyer, Executive Director of Botanic Gardens Conservation International US; Dr. Dennis Whigham, Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; and Nico Wissing and Lodewijk Hoekstra, co-owners of NL Greenlabel, based in the Netherlands. PHS’s Vice President of Public Horticulture Andrew Bunting moderated engaging question and answer sessions roundtable discussions at the symposium, and speakers from PHS also presented throughout the day.

To close the symposium, PHS asked everyone to commit to its collective action initiative surrounding pollinators. An essential way to ensure long-term health and well-being within the region and globally is to plant pollinator plants or pledge a financial commitment to an organization that promotes pollinators in its work.

“Pollinators play an important role in biodiversity, yet their populations are declining, and PHS is undertaking a collective action initiative to increase pollinators in the region,” said Bunting. “Promoting pollinators is just one crucial step to improve the biodiversity of the region, leading to improved health and well-being.”

Pollinators sustain the earth’s ecosystem and are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce and maintain biodiversity within a population. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than half of the world’s diet of fats and oils come from animal-pollinated plants and more than 150 food crops in the United States depend on pollinators. The USDA estimates that crops that depend on pollination are worth more than $10 billion a year.

Every year, PHS releases a list of Gold Medal Plants and includes pollinator friendly plants that individuals can grow in his or her own garden. The six plants chosen for 2020 were also on display at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show at the Home Gardening Hub. Throughout the year, PHS promotes sustainable gardening and biodiversity in the greater Philadelphia region by hosting plant swaps, gardening workshops, and horticulture-focused lectures. An important way to support PHS and its work is to become a contributing member. For more information on pollinators or to get involved, visit phsonline.org.

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