The « Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques » is a Museum of the City of Geneva. As the name suggests, it has a Garden and a Conservatory with an Herbarium and a Library. Conserve, explore, search, share and pass are the 5 main tasks of the institution.
The Garden with its 29 ha houses big collections of living plants, about 8400 plant species of all over the world. They are spread amongst groups by themes: the tropical and temperate greenhouses, the rock gardens with mountain plants, the terraces of medicinal and useful plants, the arboretum. The garden has become 100% organic in 2015.
With it’s around 6’000’000 specimens, the Herbarium collection is one of the most important in the world. It is derived from a long tradition of Botany in Geneva that date back to the 1800’s. It contains plants and fungi from the entire world, but in particular, those of Mediterranean, the Near and Far East, South America and Europe.
The Library contains today about 120’000 volumes. It developed first through acquisitions. Many famous private libraries were donated to the institution at the beginning of the 20th century, such as the Burnat, De Candolle and Boissier collections. It contains essentially all works and articles in the field of floristics as well as on the taxonomy of plants.
From ecosystems to genes, the scientific activities concentrate on the study of plants and fungi, as well as the biodiversity that they represent. The programmes are geared toward taxonomy, systematics and evolution, floras, catalogues and inventories, conservation, ecology and vegetation, as well as ethnobotany and history of science.
The CJB is a living museum of the city, and through its contribution to our international heritage plays a key role in passing on botanical, ethnobotanical, naturalist, environmental and horticultural knowledge. There is a wide range of activities for the public, with special emphasis regarding young people. The garden of smell and touch is dedicated to visually impaired people.
Born with 2000, a new sector dedicated to Conservation and Nature Protection develops a wide range of activities, developed in close collaboration with the Rockeries sector of the Garden:
- Inventory, evaluate and conserve flora in situ at local level;
- Grow and multiply ex situ endangered species of indigenous flora;
- Develop a seed bank on endangered regional and national flora;
- Collaborate on conservation projects in natural environments;
- Collaborate in the fight against invasive alien plants.
With support from the State Nature Protection Service, inventory and plant monitoring projects have been completed in the canton of Geneva over the past fifteen years. This collaboration allowed publishing Red and Priority Lists, strengthening the protection of flora and computerizing data to make them available to Nature managers. The vascular plant database currently contains over 200’000 observations.
The CJB host the only seed bank for wild flora in Switzerland. Considering the budgets and resources available, the focus is oriented on threatened species at national and regional level. The objective is to aim at banking at least one sample of all endangered and nearly threatened species. At the end of 2015, 50% of the endangered species of Geneva and about 25% of the red listed species of Switzerland have been collected. The CJB are involved in conservation projects for some banked species. In all cases, the seed bank and the ex situ culture in the garden have proven to be very helpful in supporting the conservation of the natural flora. The new MSB project on Alpine Seed Conservation will allow the seed bank to extend its activities to the endemic, patrimonial and endangered flora through the Alps and collaborate with other alpine countries.
Seeds are preserved in the freezer seed bank in two surrounding hermetic containers: flame sealed Pyrex glass in Kilner jars