Podcast: Botanists are disappearing at a critical time

Podcast: Botanists are disappearing at a critical time

An early-career botanist joins the Mongabay Newscast to discuss his group’s recent study of the decrease in plant awareness and educational opportunities to study botany. A Ph.D. candidate in Urban Ecology and Botany at the University of Leeds, Sebastian Stroud explains why this trend — which is not unique to the U.K. — could vastly reduce the number of skilled botanists, and our ability to address the impacts of human-induced global change. “This situation drives us ever closer to losing our ability to build a sustainable and ecologically robust future,” Stroud and his study co-authors argue. Listen here: ”Whether you know it or not, you are a botanist,” says Stroud, who challenges his students with an exercise to name all the plants or plant products they use before they get to work. The number is staggering. “Before I’ve even got into my cereal, that could be 15 different species that are being used in there,” he says using his own morning as an example. But this knowledge, Stroud and his colleagues note, is less ubiquitous today and made worse by the removal of botanically-based subjects in higher-ed curricula, which they call “an extinction of botanical education.” Stroud explains how the growing lack of educational opportunities to study plants in the U.K. is part of a positive feedback loop where fewer people are interested in plants, and academic institutions cut plant identification programs to due financial unviability. “Fewer people who are able to teach about plants leads to fewer people who…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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