How to transform urban institutional green spaces into subsidiary botanical gardens to expand informal botanical learning opportunities in cities
With more than half of the case studies of botanical gardens located in Europe and North America, the research confirms for the first time the reported imbalance in the geographical distribution of botanical gardens, supporting the argument that many cities around the world lack these botanical institutions.19. Addressing this skewed distribution, Westwood et al.20 Called for a large-scale effort to establish new parks in biodiversity hotspots and low-income countries where the conservation priority is greatest and where the prospects for global conservation efforts will be affected by the gap in plant knowledge12. The result of this study, which guides public and private institutions on how to establish agricultural pond collections, is a response to calls for increased botanical gardens around the world. Furthermore, the proposed application of the ABG concept is innovative, sustainable and contributes to increasing the number of locally grown, multi-functional, financially sustainable botanical gardens created in partnership with the community.41.
To better understand the nature of plant collections typically found in botanical gardens, the study explored the types of plant collections that are “worthy” of transferring informal botanical learning in a case study of botanical gardens. The results revealed that most plant groups have a geographic or thematic scope rather than an ecological or taxonomic scope. This may be because many of these gardens were established during periods when the emphasis was on public education and horticulture rather than research38,39. This finding is important because it points to the fact that a scientific basis is not necessary to deliver informal botanical learning to the public. In fact, many institutions have developed vegan groups within their institutional foundations to meet the learning needs of their constituencies. Schools have established vegetarian groups to provide students with dynamic and new learning methods, promote students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables, and instill early determination to conserve the environment.42,43,44. Universities display native and traditionally used plant species on their campuses to promote local heritage and culture. Medical institutions have created therapeutic gardens and edible plants to promote well-being45. Civil society groups have converted public green spaces into botanical gardens to provide local communities with a sense of ownership of place, promote well-being, and serve as a nexus of traditional knowledge.46,47. In this research, the field evaluation of the first case study site revealed that it includes two types of plant groups: Mediterranean Balcony Habitat Plant Collection, Traditional Horticultural Varieties. The second case study site contains a group of trees and shrubs representing Beirut’s historic gardens. The third case study includes the Mediterranean pine forest habitat. Although the three case study institutions selected plant species without any educational goal in sight, today these plant collections can contribute to local informal plant learning. The ABG field checklist and guidelines guide the process of identifying plant populations in each urban green space based on the dominance of species present at the time of the ABG field assessment. Considering that each urban enterprise has created its urban green spaces independently and at different times, when several of these enterprises participate in this transformation of their green spaces into business clusters, they will provide scope, scale and diversified scope for informal plant learning through their plant clusters. They will also “accidentally” reach out to a larger number of citizens by targeting their constituencies.
In contrast to the literature’s focus on the design and construction of new botanical gardens, this study contributes to grassroots action by providing urban institutions, who may wish to contribute to informal botanical learning, with tools that help assign a secondary function to green spaces without compromising their institutional function. the basic. The importance of botanical gardens as a provider of education and recreation is well established48,49; It prompted the production of numerous publications to guide the establishment of new botanical gardens or the modernization of existing ones21,22,23,24,25. The tools presented in this study are particularly relevant in poor countries and are consistent with Reed and Gable50 who suggested that small-scale horticultural oases such as community, school and experimental gardens could play the same educational role as botanical gardens and could have ripple effects that also included building a sense of deprived community areas.
Regarding the type of institutions that can participate in establishing Al Baraka banking groups, the study revealed that more than half of the botanical gardens included in the case study are public, 20% are privately owned, and 16% are owned by academic/educational institutions. Although the results of the content analysis indicate an important opportunity to reimagine public green spaces in Al Baraka Banking Groups, the case study sites in this research were drawn from privately owned green spaces. We do not believe that there is a specific situation in Lebanon that makes private parks/institutions more vulnerable to switching to Al Baraka Banking Group. However, during the research, it was not possible to secure a case study site representing a public green space due to political conflicts and economic instability, leaving public institutions inactive and dysfunctional with limited financial and human resources. On the other hand, Talhouk et al.51 Demonstrate unique opportunities to expand the scope and breadth of botanical learning in Lebanon by redesigning public green spaces, specifically the perimeter of archaeological sites, which number approximately 350 and range in size from three to 25 hectares, as ABGs. Work is currently underway to develop one of these sites to be Al Baraka Banking Group, in cooperation with the Lebanese Ministry of Culture. Efforts are also continuing to explore the green space assets of tourist resorts to contribute to informal botanical learning. Through the establishment of Al Baraka Banking Groups, public and private institutions may develop a new and different relationship with their constituencies, residents, employees or customers, by sharing a physical green space that reinforces the supportive role of nature and encourages them to reconsider the relationship between plants and people and local plants and cultures.13.
The elements of the botanical garden described after content analysis of the 220 case studies were organized into themes and developed into an ABG field checklist used in field evaluations. The checklist allowed for systematic on-site recording and evaluation of each element during field visits, determining whether the element was present or absent. Importantly, systematically reviewing the checklist provided the opportunity to co-design the physical and operational opportunities for the development of a specific botanical garden element and associated activities with the owners. The findings and suggestions emerging from this exercise are listed in Tables 4, 5 and 6. This approach is important because it guides the systematic evaluation that precedes the conversion of green space into a pool with monitoring of the local area, i.e. a vegetable garden that is locally grown, multi-functional, financially sustainable, and created in partnership with the community.41.
An important contribution of the Al Baraka Banking Group field checklist was revealed during field evaluations of the case study sites. Systematic assessment of the presence, absence or potential development of an element following a clear theme relating to experiences in botanical gardens has built stakeholder confidence in the potential to contribute to informal botanical learning. Stakeholders saw clarity in ABG’s assessment and planning that was physically and operationally compatible with the formal botanical gardens. Field assessments using Al Baraka Banking Group’s Field Checklist also opened new perspectives for owners on how their green spaces are viewed and used, and how the organization’s history and culture can be a part of it. For example, stakeholders in the case study sites were not aware of the value of their plant collections. The field checklist dispelled the misconception among stakeholders that plants with educational value are reserved for botanical gardens. Monder52 And Robertson4 He showed that botanical gardens were judged, or judged themselves, by the number of species in the garden; However, the value of plant collections lies in their contribution to economic and social development and not in the number of species preserved as dead plants. Moreover, Ray53 He noted that it is not uncommon for botanical gardens to build their collection first and then sort out the justification for the existence of their collections.
The ABG guidelines presented in this study are an application of the ABG concept and were guided by insights gained from content analysis, development of the ABG checklist and its field application. While content analysis helped list the essential elements and types of operations in a botanical garden, use of the ABG checklist during field assessments revealed elements that are unlikely to be found in institutional urban green spaces. These items were retained in the field checklist, but were not included as essential items in the guidelines. Regarding living collections, the ABG guidelines were also informed by field visits to the case study sites where it was clear that a holistic view of the flora, i.e. the landscape of the site including the history of the institution, might have inspired the designation living collection. The field visits also highlighted the importance of cooperation between stakeholders inside and outside the institution to lead and sustain activities in Al Baraka Banking Group. Another element clear from the field visit is that the institution’s commitment to establishing Al Baraka Banking Group reflects its commitment to conservation and community engagement, and this commitment should be communicated.
Al Baraka Banking Group’s guiding principles are global in scope, outside Lebanon, and applicable in various spatial and functional contexts. Most importantly, the guidelines include key aspects of the Al Baraka Banking Group concept17. Unlike botanical gardens, barberry collections are “unregulated” and seek to promote informal botanical learning, and their roles and scope are not comparable to international standards.22Its mandates are flexible, not prescriptive, and are defined by stakeholders. This does not mean that ABGs are designed to be merely urban green spaces because they are designed to deliver plant learning, hence the importance of the ABG guidelines, field checklist, and description of the elements. Based on the physical and operational elements of formal botanical gardens, the ABG Guidelines capture the essence of the ABG concept as follows: Draw on local nomenclature that is fundamental to the development of enthusiasm for plant conservation, and seek to create themes from existing plant assemblages that are essential and for communication and engagement Effectively local, it encourages the participation of taxonomically illiterate community members as “custodians” of ethnobotanical knowledge, and it guides the development of urban green spaces as a local “nature” that heals adults and a free play space for children. And biodiversity-friendly wildlife, it links the institution’s culture and history to nature and culture, and encourages the development of inclusive green spaces.
Using the ABG checklist and description of the botanical garden elements, the guidelines represent an application of the ABG concept. They provide practical and interpretive tools for organizations less accustomed to working with nature but interested in alleviating plant blindness and urban dwellers’ disconnection from nature.