Seasons Greetings to Everyone

Thanks to all our members, supporters, partners and everyone for your interest and involvement in 2007. BGCI wishes you all very happy and prosperous 2008, and if you are celebrating Christmas or the winter solstice, a great holiday. We look forward to working with you to create a healthier, happier planet in 2008.

Seasonal Gift Ideas - Show your love of plants

It's increasingly popular to think at Christmas about reducing your consumerism and supporting good causes instead. And Christmas is a time, in winter darkness, when we celebrate plants in particular. The tree, the holly, the ivy and the frankincense - all are from plants and all have threatened relatives. It's an opportunity to think of how we can give something back.

We've a whole bunch of ideas for you to support plants and botanic gardens this Christmas.

Here's a sample:

Christmas Greetings

Increasingly, people use e-cards to send Christmas greetings as a more eco-friendly way to spread good cheer in the winter holidays. Botanic gardens are no exception and at BGCI we've started getting the cards from around the world so I thought I'd share them with you here.

Website Accessibility: an Opportunity for Botanic Gardens

I found this nugget and thought it was worth sharing - botanic gardens could use the opportunity to improve website acessibility and publicise the fact. From the AbilityNet newsletter.

Latest eNation Report - Tourist Attraction Sites Get 1 Out of 10

"Disabled people planning excursions online can choose anywhere - as long as it's Glasgow's Science Centre" is the disappointing but not altogether surprising conclusion of our latest eNation report published.

Of the ten websites sampled, which were selected randomly from lists of the top ten visitor attractions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, only gained a minimum accessibility rating. The remaining nine sites, including the London Eye and Eden Project websites, only achieved one or two stars out of a potential five, meaning that they lack the fundamental features to enable disabled people to access and navigate them effectively.

The full story and the report itself can be found at

CITES Manual

BGCI has just published a new edition of the CITES Manual for botanic gardens. You can download it online as a PDF from the BGCI website here:

Wuhan: Congress Proceedings Now Online

Attracting nearly 1,000 participants from 67 countries, the congress included 4 plenary sessions, 42 symposia, 7 workshops, and 6 network meetings. A total 202 oral and 145 poster presentations were given during the week.

You can now view these Proceedings online at

As well as being able to view all the papers and posters that were contributed, you can also view pictures from the Congress on the BGCI Flickr group and read Sarah Kneebone's daily updates if you want to revisit those exciting days. Just look out for the links on the 3GBGC web pages.

We hope you will join us again at the next BGCI Congress in 2010. If you can't wait that long, you are invited to join us in Delft next June for the 2nd World Scientific Conference "Challenges in Botanical Research and Climate Change"

Support Uganda Project!

The Nature Palace Garden in Uganda have taken the initiative following this article and have posted a great project on the GiveMeaning website. It's aiming to conserve wildlife and plants of the Ssese Islands which are in Lake Victoria. They plan to establish an arboretum amongst other things.

They need your vote in order to start fundraising so go there and vote now

Thanks for letting us know David, and good luck with the project.

Vegetable Orchestra

Plants have often been important to mankind but what is this all about?
Could be a good one to book for your next botanic garden party.

New Book for Botanic Garden Management

"The Management and Maintenance of Historic Parks, Gardens and Landscapes - The English Heritage Handbook" is the rather unwieldy title of what is in fact an excellent in-depth manual.

The Management and Maintenance of Historic Parks, Gardens and Landscapes
Published by Frances Lincoln, it is described as a "new reference book...for all those professionals, agents, owners, designers and managers concerned with the many aspects of managing historic gardens, parks and design landscapes. The comprehensive scope emphasizes the importance of the principles of management, and the historic, scientific, botanical, horticultural, economic, legal and technical aspects essential for success. There is no up-to-date book on the subject; the last one was written in 1982."

Well BGCI's Darwin Technical Manual is of course an option for gardens in particular, but even that is now nearly ten years old.

"The Management and Maintenance..." looks gorgeous, is very detailed and rich with information, and is easy to navigate. It has three parts, the third of which is a series of ten case studies.

A lot of this book will be relevant to botanic gardens managers, particularly the sections on "Managing historic parks and gardens" and Part Two: "The Living Garden Landscape".

The emphasis however, is very much upon the British scenario with chapters on topics such as "The Legal Framework" which I doubt will have much relevance outside the UK or even for botanic gardens within the UK.

Take a look for yourself on Amazon. If you buy it (or anything else on Amazon) from this link BGCI will benefit.

Nevertheless I am sure it would be a very welcome addition to the sparsely inhabited shelf of a botanic garden management bookcase. I guess we just need Frances Lincoln to commission another book like this, specifically for the world's botanic gardens, and the shelf will be complete!

Using the Internet to Raise Money

The explosion in social media on the internet has been creatively adapted by some organisations to raise funds for their projects. The web can give you fast, cheap access to a niche audience of people who are interested in your work and this can be leveraged to mutual advantage.

Assess Your Resources

A website is like having a shop or house - its a place where you can put things on display and you can sublet some of the space to other people and thus make money. So if you have a website, you can use it to generate income.

If you don't have a website, don't despair! There are many ways to find income sources on the net without having your own site, and you can accept payments by email using Paypal.

Examples of Ways to Raise Money on the Net

If you have a website:

* Affiliate Schemes such as the one BGCI has with We place ads for relevant products on Amazon, and when someone buys from Amazon via our link, we get a commission. You can also offer an affiliate scheme to other people - they place links to your site on their website, and they earn commission if you get any business from the ad.
* Sell advertising space - Google ads are available to anyone who wants to put them on their site, or you could negotiate with local businesses, or contact an agent offering space on your site. You will need to demonstrate how many visitors you get - free site statistics are available using Google Analytics.
* Ask for donations! You can use Paypal to accept donations, this is probably the easiest way to handle transactions on the net. Other trusted payment systems include WorldPay and Google Checkout
* Open an online shop - you can pay for a package or use free software
* Create your own Google ads - you can apply for a 'Google Grant' so that you can promote your cause for free.

If you don't have a website:

* Join a social media site and create an interest group where people can come to learn about an issue and donate to your campaign. Glasgow Botanic Garden is using Myspace to get support on a planning issue.
* Sign up to one of the many schemes that make donations to charities. Examples include and donation search engines like SearchKindly
* Use one of the Charity fundraising sites set up for the purpose such as, or the
* If you use Windows Messenger (MSN) you can add a donations feature
* If you want to sell things, you can use ebay or Amazon, sell your own branded goods at CafePress
* If you make videos, you can use Revver to generate income
* You can start a blog and allow ads to be placed on it. This will only generate meaningful income if you have something really interesting to say! Blogging begins with places like Wordpress or Blogger.
* You could even join Second Life - that's a whole new world where some charities have been successful. Such as Save the Children, who sold virtual yaks to raise awareness and generate money.
* Make a video and put it on YouTube to raise awareness

Dangers to Look Out For

* The main problem on the internet is that there is so much of it. So you risk being overwhelmed by information and getting internet fatigue, or simply scattering your energies too thinly. (I speak from experience!) The key to deal with this is to set a limit to how long you will spend on research. Once you have spent that time, stop researching and pick which methods you are going to try. Set some targets, then get started and allow your ideas to evolve slowly and learn as you do.

* Spam is an ever present irritation. If you start getting too much spam, there is only one solution: you have to get a new email address. You can reduce this risk by not giving an email address explicitly. You can use a form instead for people to contact you, or you can write your address out in words eg "info at"

* Fraud is pretty rare and the payment systems I have mentioned are very reputable and have many strong mechanisms to prevent this problem. The only way to completely eliminate this risk is not to get involved. its your call. Paypal's Security Centre and Wikipedia might help you to assess the risks.

Pointers for Doing it the Sensible Way

* Do your research - look at other people's methods (try the links above and do your own search) and get a feel for the options

* Think clearly about your goals and write a short plan - it will be easier for you to communicate your goals and to know whether you have been successful.

* Keep it simple - just do one or two things at a time to start with. Asking for donations or using a fundraising website is probably the most effective way to start off with. Advertising generates very low revenues unless you are a really big website.

The Two-Hour Plan for Getting Started Right Away

If you do not have a process for income to flow towards you on the internet, I have invented a very simple method for you to follow right now. (It's designed for people who just want donations for a specific project, so if you have something to sell or a more complex requirement please ignore this method.)

I recommend you to follow the Sensible steps above but if you are new to all this and just want to get on with it, try this. It should take about two hours to set up. You need to have an email address.

* Open a Paypal Merchant account - You will need to look at the 'Merchant' options on Paypal's site and choose what's best for you. You don't have to have a website to receive money by Paypal.

* Put the Paypal logo on your website (if you have one)

* or open a blog if you don't, and put the logo on there. You might prefer to sign up with one of the fundraising sites if blogging is not suitable or sustainable for you.

* Say on the Blog/website what you want the money for

* Email the blog address to all your contacts and send the link to other websites to advertise it.

Then in the next few weeks:

* Take a look at the resources above and investigate how you can build on your beginnings
* Keep promoting the link and learning about other routes for income to flow towards you.

These are just a few pointers to get you started, you will find plenty more info out there but the best way to learn is to just do it!