Athens, Ga. – The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded a two-year grant to the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, at the University of Georgia, to restore native plant species diversity to five acres of degraded floodplain habitat along the Middle Oconee River.
“This grant is so much more than habitat restoration for five acres of forest,” said Jim Affolter, director of research and conservation at the botanical garden. “We will use UGA undergraduate students to assist in clearing invasive Chinese privet, survey the vegetation, plant native species and monitor the change. This process will be used to generate a set of recommendations for floodplain restoration for landowners and land managers who wish to address the habitat devastation caused by Chinese privet.”
At the same time, abandoned greenhouses and support buildings will be upgraded to create growing facilities for native plant species. These plants will be used to reestablish the project habitat, and enhance the diversity of the garden’s native plant collection. Plants grown in this facility also will help support the program with plant sales and growing contracts for restoration projects. An initial test plot has been planted to grow plants to create a seed source for many Georgia native plants. Garden volunteers were essential in helping to create this initial plot.
Another result of this grant will be to create a teaching environment for native plants, providing hands-on experience with native species. “Our Certificate in Native Plants program has been so successful that we are expanding it this year to Savannah and Tifton” said Anne Shenk, director of education. The garden’s education and research and conservation departments have been working closely to develop programs for schoolchildren and adults, including award-winning after-school curricula.
“One of the best parts is that this grant reinforces the fact that a living plant collection is a vital public resource, part of our state’s heritage, as important as a museum or library collection. We take seriously our role in celebrating and preserving native plant species and their habitats,” said Affolter.
This is one of 31 Conservation Project Support Grants selected from 136 applications submitted by museums nationwide, and one of only five grants awarded to botanical gardens. These are matching funds grants that support the essential work of caring for museum collections and libraries, including the living collections of zoos and botanical gardens. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
For additional information on the IMLS grants, see http://www.imls.gov/news/2011/052011.shtm.
For more information on the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, see http://www.uga.edu/botgarden/.