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Urban conservation gardening in the decade of restoration

Abstract

Global commitments and policy interventions for conservation have failed to halt widespread declines in plant biodiversity, highlighting an urgent need to engage novel approaches and actors. Here we propose that urban conservation gardening, namely the cultivation of declining native plant species in public and private green spaces, can be one such approach. We identify policy and complementary social mechanisms to promote conservation gardening and reform the existing horticultural market into an innovative nature-protection instrument. Conservation gardening can be an economically viable and participatory measure that complements traditional approaches to plant conservation.

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Fig. 1: A species’ niche position for nutrients is positively associated with its occupancy across Germany.
Fig. 2: Cultivation has a positive impact on the occupancy trend of both native plants and neophytes.
Fig. 3: Urban green spaces can increase and better connect the area for conservation activities.
Fig. 4: Many threatened native plant species are already available for purchase online.
Fig. 5: A tiered approach for selecting appropriate declining native species.

Data availability

Data used for Figs. 1 and 2 are taken from ref. 25 and sci.muni.cz/botany/juice/ELLENB.TXT. Source data are provided with this paper.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge funding of iDiv via the German Research Foundation (DFG FZT 118). C.T.C. was supported by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (number 891052). J.S. was supported by the project: TERRANOVA the European Landscape Learning Initiative, which has received funding from the European Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement number 813904. We also thank M. Schlatter for her valuable contributions at the beginning of the project and M. Hassler for kindly providing the photographs for Fig. 4.

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

I.R.S. and J.S. devised the project and the main conceptual ideas with contributions from C.T.C., E.L., A.P., H.M.P. and J.N.M. J.S. and I.R.S. performed the analytical calculations. J.S., I.R.S. and E.L. produced figures. J.S. and I.R.S. wrote the manuscript with contributions from E.L., C.T.C., J.N.M., A.P. and H.M.P. I.R.S. supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Josiane Segar or Ingmar R. Staude.

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Nature Sustainability thanks Robert McDonald, Laura Mumaw and Paul Smith for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Tables 1–2 and References.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Occupancy and N values of species list.

Source Data Fig. 2

Trend, floristic and cultivation status of species list.

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Segar, J., Callaghan, C.T., Ladouceur, E. et al. Urban conservation gardening in the decade of restoration. Nat Sustain (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-022-00882-z

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