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13th June, 2012

The Menzies Lecture 2012

Event Details

13th June, 2012
6.15pm - 8pm
Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre
Free, all welcome but please register

From Botany Bay to Breathing Planet: reflections on plant diversity and global sustainability

Stephen D. Hopper, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The establishment of Australia as a nation is intimately linked with Botany Bay, named by James Cook following the enthusiasm for novel botanical discoveries made by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on the Endeavour’s first Australian landfall in 1770. On returning to England, Banks was introduced to King George III, and they became firm friends, the King inviting Banks to become honorary Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew in west London.

Today, Kew is the world’s largest botanical garden, with the most diverse scientific collections of plants on Earth, leading inspirational research and conservation projects like the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.  Plant diversity has never been more important than now to help with solutions towards sustainable livelihoods. This presentation will touch upon global plant diversity patterns, ongoing scientific discovery, and strategies that have helped and will help towards humans living with and sustainably using biodiversity.

Such approaches are embraced in the Breathing Planet Programme, Kew’s strategy with partners for inspiring and delivering science-based plant conservation worldwide, aimed at enhancing the quality of life at a time of unprecedented global change. Today’s plant science is also helping better understand the astounding place that Banks first stepped onto at Botany Bay, and demonstrating that Australia has much to teach the world about biodiversity and human enrichment on ancient landscapes.

Stephen D. Hopper is 14th Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He is a plant conservation biologist, best known for pioneering research leading to positive conservation outcomes in south-west Australia (one of the few temperate-zone global biodiversity hotspots) and for the description of 300 new plant taxa. He holds a  BSc (Hons) in botany and zoology and a PhD (for a thesis on speciation in kangaroo paws) both from the University of Western Australia. After various scientific posts in the Western Australian public service, he joined Kings Park and Botanic Garden as Director (1992), and served as CEO of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (1999-2004).

The Menzies Lecture is one of two major public lectures organised each year by the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies. It is designed to provide an opportunity for a distinguished person, of any nationality, to reflect on a subject of contemporary interest affecting Britain and Australia.

For more information visit The Menzies Lecture.

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