The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) today announced an innovative pilot project at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. that links NOAA’s internationally recognized climate services and APGA’s public gardens, which receive more than 70 million visitors a year. This marks the beginning of a new partnership focused on educating gardeners and garden enthusiasts about the possible effects of climate change on America’s gardens, landscapes and green spaces.
“Climate change is happening now, and it’s beginning to affect the things we care about, such as our treasured gardens, parks and natural landscapes,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This new partnership provides a special opportunity for NOAA to connect with gardeners and communities across the nation to help everyone better understand what changes in local climate mean for the plants, trees and landscaped areas around them.”
Using NOAA climate data, the project exhibits maps showing how changes in average annual minimum temperatures affect climate-related planting zones. This information can help gardeners, landscapers and farmers identify which plant species will best survive in certain conditions. The exhibit is augmented by a cell-phone recording that explains what the changing planting zones mean for local plants in Longwood Gardens, as well as for area gardeners.
“Millions of Americans visit public gardens annually as a place to relax and learn. America’s public gardens are starting to notice changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, earlier bloom or leaf-budding times, or that some plant species are able to grow in different areas,” said Daniel J. Stark, executive director of APGA. “Our partnership with NOAA allows us to better understand how some of those impacts are linked to climate change. It is clear we need to understand more about the effects of climate change so that we can educate the public about the impacts these changes will have, and share best practices on mitigating the effects. To do our best job as a trusted resource for the public, we need the best available information on current and future impacts so we can begin addressing these challenges now.”
“Sharing the important work of NOAA with our staff, guests, and community is integral to our mission and continues Longwood Gardens’ commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Paul Redman, Longwood Gardens Director. “There is telling evidence that climate change is affecting plant life around the world and here at Longwood. For example, through Longwood Gardens-sponsored research we have observed that plants are flowering earlier on average 1 day per decade over the last 150 years. Longwood is proud to be the first garden to share with our guests the APGA/NOAA inaugural interpretive experience about climate change and its far-reaching effects on all of our lives.”
Priorities of the new partnership include: increased climate literacy via public education at public gardens; increased community engagement in addressing climate variability and change as part of both short- and long-term community planning and adaptation; ongoing professional exchanges between NOAA and public garden professionals on climate change issues; and development of a public clearinghouse for information about climate change and adaptation.
The impacts of global climate change have emerged as one of the greatest challenges facing current and future generations of Americans. For decades, NOAA and its partners have been providing climate data, services and other information to the nation. With the accelerating need for such information, NOAA will ensure that APGA, and the nation, have access to the best possible environmental information for the many millions of yearly visitors to America’s public gardens.
Founded in 1940, the American Public Gardens Association is an organization devoted to strengthening the public gardens throughout North America. With more than 65 years of work increasing cooperation and awareness among the gardens, APGA has built a membership of more than 500 public gardens located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and seven other countries. Their members include public gardens as well as arboreta and zoos. APGA has also built up an international network of individual members in the U.S., Canada, and 24 other countries. The APGA is committed to increasing public awareness for public gardens and supplying resources to the industry. Through their leadership and advocacy, public gardens have become vital to public appreciation and understanding of the irreplaceable value of plants.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us online at here or on Facebook.