Amy Byrne, The Morton Arboretum
A 2019 study by Griffith, et al. showed that gardens must collaborate to conserve genetic diversity, especially for exceptional species whose seeds cannot be conventionally seed banked. This process of capturing the genetic diversity of exceptional species in ex situ collections requires a tailored strategy for each species, emphasizing the need for a coordinated effort by botanic gardens. By working through networked consortia, botanic gardens can implement innovative solutions to safeguard these species in a changing world, in high conservation value “metacollections”. We highlight a new initiative to conserve genetic diversity of exceptional species through a coordinated effort of gardens, using the metacollection model: the Global Conservation Consortium for Oak (GCCO). We outline the challenges and provide solutions for conserving this iconic group of exceptional trees, and provide recommendations that can guide conservation efforts for other exceptional plant groups, especially large, long-lived trees. With our many CPC partners, we are working to grow a diverse, coordinated network of institutions and experts who will advance our goal in preventing the extinction of the world’s exceptional species.