The Botanical Capacity Assessment Project (BCAP) has released a report, “Assessing Botanical Capacity to Address Grand Challenges in the United States.” The report, which includes recommendations for the government, academia, and non-governmental organizations, is believed to be the first assessment of the nation’s botanical capacity.

The Chicago Botanic Garden and Botanic Gardens Conservation International’s U.S. office worked with several partners to assess strengths and areas for improvement in plant science education, research and habitat management in the United States. This one-year, grant-funded project involved four key stages: 1) literature review, 2) survey of the botanical community, 3) workshop with key stakeholders, and 4) production and distribution of a report.

A brief report summary reads: “Botanical capacity plays a fundamental role in solving the grand challenges of the next century, including climate change, sustainability, food security, preservation of ecosystem services, conservation of threatened species, and control of invasive species. Yet critical components of botanical education, research and management are lacking across government, academic, and private sectors. A recent nationwide survey revealed severe shortages of botanists at government agencies, a wave of upcoming retirements, and an alarming decline in botanical degree programs and course offerings at the nation’s colleges and universities. Private sector organizations are helping to fill identified gaps in capacity, but need to work strategically with all sectors to ensure their sustainability into the future. If botanical capacity continues to erode at its current rate, the nation’s science, sustainability, and land management agenda will suffer, opportunities to economically and efficiently solve environmental challenges will be lost, and our public and private lands will continue to degrade.”

The final report and brief summary documents are available for free online at


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