Aim: The State Council approved the establishment of the National Botanical Garden in Beijing in December, 2021 and the South China National Botanical Garden in Guangzhou in May, 2022. These two gardens will be developed into world-class botanical gardens with distinctive Chinese characteristics where all forms of life coexist harmoniously. This paper explores the main features of world-class national botanical gardens from the perspectives of historical, functional and mission dimensions, aiming to provide reference for the construction of China’s national botanical garden system.
Methods: Based on the five different evaluation criteria of botanical gardens in the world and China, we summarized the attributes of 12 renowned botanical gardens in the world and 5 well-performing botanical gardens in China. A new evaluation system of botanical gardens was proposed after extensive literature review and consensus among peers. The main features of world-class botanical gardens were identified based on this system and the evaluation process.
Results: The national botanical garden should possess national representativeness, scientific systematicness, and social public welfare. A world-class botanical garden should demonstrate strong international competitiveness in areas such as plant conservation, scientific research, public education, garden horticultural display, and resource utilization while leading the development of other botanical gardens. Chinese characteristics refer to the gradual formation of unique attributes through long-term practice, encompassing characteristics of Chines ethnic plants, traditional culture, garden art, institutional mechanisms, and more. From the perspectives of historical, functional, and mission dimensions, the main features of a world-class national botanical garden with Chinese characteristics include: (1) It possessed a significant development history, actively engaging in the conservation, research, and utilization of wild plants in response to the country’s economic and social development and the public’s aspiration for a better life. Furthermore, it has a certain influence in the field of botanical gardens both domestically and internationally; (2) The botanical garden demonstrated leaderships, either partially or completely, in five functional domains: ex situ conservation of wild plants, scientific research, sustainable resource utilization, public education, and garden horticultural display; (3) It serves as a vital component of major national strategies, ensuring national ecological security, biosecurity, and food security. Additionally, it contributes to national or global biodiversity conservation, restoration of degraded ecosystems, mitigation of climate change, and sustainable development through the application of science and technology.
Conclusion: The construction of China’s national botanical garden should align with internationally renowned botanical garden, guided by mission goals, with a focus on the relocation and conservation of wild plants. It should adhere to national representativeness, scientific systematicness, and social public welfare, coordinate in situ conservation and ex situ conservation, enhance the level of biodiversity conservation, tell the story of Chinese plant well, provide strong support for curbing the biodiversity loss and restoring degraded ecosystems, and provide innovative solutions to mitigate global climate change.