How is the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting your botanic garden or arboretum?

Let each other know how COVID-19 is impacting your institution:

  • Are your staff working from home?

  • Do you have core staff working on your living collection?

  • How are you keeping your staff safe?

  • How is the pandemic impacting the financial stability of the institution?

  • What do you define as business critical during this time?

The Cadereyta Regional Botanical Garden (Queretaro, Mexico) is closed to the public from March 17th., 2020. Starting next week, only minimal staff will attend, in order to maintain just the basic tasks, in terms of plant collection survival. Security protocols are being meticulously followed. The impact of this pandemic is still unsuspected, but it will undoubtedly be very strong. A lot of things will have to be completely rethought.

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COVID-19 had a great impact on Chinese botanical gardens. Most of the botanical gardens in China have been closed since Jan 24th, 2020. Considering that the epidemic situation in Guangzhou is not serious, South China Botanical Garden keeps open on the basis of prevention and control. We hope that people can access nature during the isolation period, but the average number of visitor per day is less than 500 (Jan 2019 about 10000/day). It wasn’t until last week that the number of visitor returned to normal. So far, none of our visitors and colleagues at South China Botanical Garden have been infected.

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I’m writing on behalf of our director, Mr. YANG Yi-Biao. Fairy Lake Botanical Garden is a well-known tourist attraction in Shenzhen, China. The number of tourists visiting the Fairy Lake Botanical Garden has exceeded 4 million annually. For security reasons, Fairy Lake Botanical Garden (including Hongfa Temple) has been closed on January 24 (New Year’s Eve), and public activities in the park have been suspended accordingly. The 2020 Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area · Shenzhen Flower Show, originally scheduled for March 12-21, has also been postponed to November. Gardening and other daily horticultural work in the park continues as usual.

To pay tribute and gratitude to the experts and medical staff in Shenzhen working in epidemic prevention and control, Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden hosted the “Healing Spring, Beauty Returns” (治愈春天 芳华归来)Thanksgiving theme public welfare day on March 21-22. Representatives of medical workers from the front lines of anti-COVID19 in various hospitals in Shenzhen enjoined the natural scenery and beautiful flowers of the botanical garden here to relieve the pressure of work for many days. Flower bulbs, Lupin, Begonia grandiflora, and Foxglove were used to arrange flower borders in the Paradise Scenery Lawn to create a beautiful flower landscape.

The Fairy Lake Botanical Garden was officially reopened on March 24, with a daily limit of 2,000 people. Religious activities such as Hongfa Temple are still temporarily closed. Visitors must complete the online ticket purchase in advance on the official WeChat account of the “Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden”. Tourists can enter the park with their ID card or ticket purchase QR code. Fairy Lake Botanical Garden’s offline ticketing service (on-site ticket window at the gate) remains suspended. At the same time, Fairy Lake Botanical Garden will be free of charge to medical workers nationwide until the end of this year.
Please find attached some pictures from the “Healing Spring, Beauty Returns” activity. The videos are also uploaded to Dropbox to share with you. (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/1apwl431z5ug25y/AABssklEZV5NhU3LiSETReYna?dl=0)
All the best and lots of courage for yourself, your family and beloved-ones.






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“Healing Spring, Beauty Returns” , excellent activity! Beautiful flowers and gorgeous pictures! :rose:::

Flowering plants have been on the planet for 130 million years; although all human evolution has elapsed in their presence, we have barely had time to look at them with all the care that their beauty demands, in his broad spectrum of the almost invisible violet to the exultant red. Doctors and Chinese medicine, have surely found a haven for their tired bodies with this deserved homage. Victor Hugo, the French writer, pointed: To love beauty is to see light. May the doctors of the world make us see the light of health, soon and all over our beloved planet.

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The Botanical garden in Oslo, Norway is closed to the public. There is a core staff tending the living collections and the national seed bank for threatened plants. We only perform essential tasks, such as e.g. watering, pest control, weeding, and maintenance work on infrastructure.

Horticultural staff, curators, and management are working from home as much as possible. This may include database work in IRIS, revising routine descriptions, revising collection policies, or even continuing education from home.

Core staff at work are divided into teams that do not meet and do not share facilities such as toilets, wardrobes and so on. No one are allowed to use public transport to work. All surfaces such as door handles, toilets, and so on are cleaned frequently and thoroughly. Staff are instructed to keep a safe distance between them both indoors and outdoors.

The garden has no entrance fee, so our financial situation is not affected at the moment.

The priority now is to maintain the plant collection, but with very strict health and safety measures. Another priority is to communicate with the public, and with neighbors. We give information on why we are closed, and we try to make some of the collections digitally accessible.

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Real Jardín Botánico Juan CarlosI (Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) Spain:

How the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting their gardens and plant conservation efforts
Minimum services have been provided for plant conservation but weed clean up is piling up. The offices building have been closed as well as the whole garden for the public.

How their institution is responding to these impacts
Isolation and protection measures have been implemented and telecommuting when is posible. Encouraging public interest through social media. Preparing new resources for future reopening. Taking advantage to do data management acumulated work.

How to mitigate impacts

Supported by the professionalism and proactivity of those involved. Recoverng lost work hours once it is posible to access normaly. Tuning new activities up for the reopening of the Garden.

 How to support each other through the crisis

Boosting team work, replacing each other if we get sick.

How to collaborate during the crisis
Keeping a compact atmosphere to tackle the crisis.

How to manage a living collection during the crisis
Giving priority to conservation against reproduction/multiplication. Procesing al the requirements and collaboration from Index Seminum to inmediately issuing when we can access to iffices again. Keeping an eye on the most sensitive species to meet their needs.

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Thank you for all the post so far. It’s been very interesting to learn how each botanic garden is developing their own best practices for working during the pandemic.

My name is Will Ritchie and I’m the Curator at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, which is currently closed. I have included below some of the basic procedures we have introduced to protect our staff and the living collection at this time. Many of the protocols mentioned have been widely adopted but I hope it will be a useful insight for some.

Firstly, an exercise was conducted to classify horticultural tasks as ‘essential’, ‘prudent’ or ‘non-essential’. Only ‘essential’ and ‘prudent’ tasks were considered when reviewing the capacity required to continue horticultural practices. We also reviewed the collections to ensure we had the capacity to maintain the specimens in the collection which were of value to conservation, scientific research and education. many ornamental plants were also included in the priority list, based on the cost of finding replacements. Once we had a better understanding in regards to both the essential tasks and collections, A much reduce horticultural team was created with an equal number of horticulturists working each day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday. In horticulture, I think consistency is an important variable and this allowed us to design operations around a set number of people. The essential tasks, which we focus most of our time on, are actually few. They are watering, nutrition, integrated pest management and health & safety.

We have reduced propagation considerably, to allow time for the team to focus on the essential tasks. Our aim is to have no significant loss to the collection and healthy plants. Planting has continued, but only when necessary. Some plants would not have survived if we left them in their pots for too long. We have also simplified feeding regimes and growing media mixes to ensure we can source the components and materials, but also so they are easier for the whole team to follow. One of the greatest challenges is that horticulturists are changing from specialist roles to being generalists and have more areas to cover. To help, I have looked at all our horticultural practices to identify marginal gains in time and efficiencies.

Finally, I have tried to increase communications and manage the morale. At times like these people can be anxious and concerned, for themselves, colleagues and their plants! I have been communicating with the whole team (including staff who have been furloughed) consistently. We make time to have an all team meeting using video conferencing once a week which is light hearted and social. I think this has been really important and has helped our team feel united, informed and positive, even when they can’t be with each other.

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I have recently been in contact with colleagues from the European Botanic Gardens Consortium and they have provided a few updates on the situation in their countries and gardens as some countries start to come out of lock-down. I have collated these below as I feel they may be of interest to others

Austria - In Vienna our garden has been open to the public again since mid-April, and we have installed two independent teams to manage the collections (which works fine so far). At the University, we are still working in home-office, with the option that lab-work might start next week again. It is still uncertain whether we will have course/exams with physical presence this summer term at all.

Bulgaria - Our gardens opened for visitors on the 14th of May. The staff haven’t stopped working.

Croatia – Zagreb garden is planning to open next week. Our collections were managed by only a few people who were able to travel to work during the Covid restrictions, but now we are trying to compensate for the lost time. Our situation is also difficult because of the Zagreb earthquake that caused lots of damage and financial problems.

Czech Republic – The situation in Prague is stabilized and everything is slowly going back to normal life. We are open for visitors for the third week and of course this is highly welcomed by people, with each week, 5-10 thousand visitors in the garden - luckily we are big enough for such numbers. Plus some income, which is also a good stimulus to cover losses from the previous period. Greenhouses are going to be opened from 25th of May. We are almost fully working in the garden again, gardeners just with one from each section at home as a kind of secure person in case of infection and quarantine. What I have found as very positive, that most of the staff were looking forward to being back in the garden.

Estonia - The restrictions have become easier this week. In Tallinn we have provided an outdoor walking opportunity in our garden during all this period, but now, starting from yesterday the outdoor areas are opened with tickets as the summer and the high season is almost here. It is not quite certain if we can open also the greenhouses yet. But it is agreed that until the end of August people must follow limited movement rules everywhere.

France - The 4 botanic gardens of the National Museum of Natural History are still completely closed to the public. The de-lockdown process has started timidly, but with only 20% of staff allowed to work on site. - In Paris a handful of museums are reopening on strict and highly controlled regulations.

Greece - We are working at home and at the office but the garden is closed and I don’t think it will open for visits.

Italy - all sites are still closed in Italy, some might open progressively next week depending on the region, if they meet the required standards that will be issued this week. All events and tours are naturally cancelled and greenhouse access will probably not be possible. It is likely that each garden will have to set a maximum number of visitors allowed in at the same time, considering the size of each garden.

Norway - Our University is still closed down, and just a few people are at work (typically students). All people are advised to use their local nature and go out to get exercise and get fresh air. The schools are doing mostly outdoor classes as well, often in parks and botanical gardens. That means that most Norwegian gardens have to be open (only Oslo is closed), but most gardeners are at home (and the toilets closed). So, we get a situation that the gardens have record numbers of visitors, but we are not there. Maintenance is very low with no planting or production of new plants. A bit of a strange situation for us.

Poland – at the University in Poznan we are partially open, after 3.pm. on weekdays and all day at the weekends.

Portugal - Azores - Our garden will reopen to the public next Monday with 2 separate teams for public attendance and gardening. Technical staff will also restart in public buildings. As we keep a good number of interventions in natural areas, operational workers will also restart field work. All with the necessary sanitary restrictions. Vehicle disinfection is part of the protocol but keeping individual use of disinfected hand tools, is of course very much depending on individual responsibility. Regional government will be distributing personal protection gloves and masks on a daily basis to all public workers as well as disinfectant fluid. Fortunately, the situation is completely controlled in the island. In the 3 islands where no cases were identified, schools have re-opened and life is returning to normality. Travelling between islands is still very restricted and to the mainland only with very special and strong reasons. Impossible to travel abroad and to receive tourism so far which makes our perspectives for visitors this year very low. It feels like we are cruising the ocean in a floating fortress.

Slovenia - we closed the Garden to the public on 13 March. But most of us work inside the Garden, we have done some renovation and tree checking. On 28 April we opened again the Garden to public, including the greenhouse. Because of the small staff and no students work or volunteers allowed to help, we had a problem to be open in all location, so one glasshouse is still closed. In the greenhouse masks must be used. After reopening the number of visitors really increased, because all schools and Universities up to now are closed.

Spain - Here, in our autonomous community of Madrid we are still at home and only essential works are developing at the garden, but I suppose that we will return soon, maybe in June.

UK - National Botanic Garden of Wales - has been closed since March 23rd, and whilst we are preparing plans for re-opening to the public, we have no real idea of when that will be.

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The Royal Botanic Garden (RBG) in Jordan has not been inaugurated, hence we do not have visitor traffic.
During the lock down in Jordan, our security staff were on duty regularly, other wise the technical staff worked from home.
Hygiene protocol is enforced at all RBG facilities.
Though the RBG dose not have income generated from visitors, our financial contributions have retreated by %25. Which effected the financial stability.
The business critical for the RBG are the new priorities that emerged during and after the pandemic, regardless, at community or state levels. Seemingly that are going to prevail for some time, perhaps on a medium term.