The current energy crisis and rising inflation were on everyone’s lips at the annual gathering of Germany’s top botanic gardens in Konstanz and the annual general meeting of the country’s National Federation of Botanical Gardens in Dortmund, both held in September 2022.
The instability of the markets is causing risk to or an irretrievable loss of century-old plant collections across the country in Botanical gardens, parks, and memorial garden sites. The spiralling costs of gas and electricity combined with a dramatic drop in consumer spending dent their business operations, causing much financial distress.
A gas shortage would leave gardens and memorial sites ‘literally’ in the cold with a foreseeable loss of plant collections.
Preserving unique plant collections and cultural assets
The country’s botanical gardens are a treasure trove of flowers, plants, trees, and shrubs worldwide. In Germany’s botanical greenhouses, many plant collections are cultivated and scientifically cared for, among which many endangered plant species.
This protection is why botanical gardens make such an invaluable contribution to conserving biodiversity, which climate change increasingly threatens. Expenditure on the management of greenhouses is rising sharply, in some cases by up to six times compared to prices before the energy crisis.
The additional costs incurred cannot be fully passed on to visitors at the entrance gate.
Negative impact on the cultural heritage of botanic gardens
The pandemic showed how parks and botanical gardens, especially in large cities, play an important recreational role year-round. Botanical gardens in Germany also see increasing visitation by tourists, creating added value for the garden’s city and region.
Supporting gardens and parks as extracurricular places of learning and science
Germany’s botanical gardens and parks sustain that they act as “non-formal, informal, and extracurricular places of learning and, with their diverse offerings for people of all ages, they are indispensable components of municipalities and federal states. The rich plant collections are an indispensable basis for this. In addition, the collections are essential for basic botanical and ecological research.”
The parks’ cultural heritage, the majority of which are listed ensembles, performs various social functions, such as recreation, education, quality green spaces and the preservation of plant collections, arboretums, and history.
Demands on the federal and state governments
The parks and botanical gardens are preparing for the shortage with energy-saving measures. In recent years, energy-saving renovations have been carried out step by step. Plans for using renewable energies have already been implemented or are in the pipeline.
The botanical gardens and parks call upon the government for financial aid, even if funded by municipalities and irrespective of whether they are public or private enterprises or integrated into a corporate group.
The gardens which put their signatures to the letter to the government include: