From Plant Press, Vol. 17, No. 3, July 2014.
By Warren L. Wagner
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is often signed to define relationships among agencies and institutions. On June 30, the Smithsonian Institution joined 11 federal agencies in signing a MOU that continues the work of the Federal Native Plant Conservation Committee of the Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) and its cooperators in State government and non-government organizations. The PCA is a public-private partnership of governments and non-government organizations that share the same goal of protecting native plants by ensuring that native plant populations and their communities are maintained, enhanced, and restored.
“Every year America suffers significant losses of its native plants and wildlife due to fire, drought, flood and other natural disaster damage,” Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze said. “The MOU we are signing today calls attention to our need as Federal agencies to adapt to changing realities and to work together to restore affected landscapes for the people, communities and economies that depend on them.”
A video from NatureServe about the Plant Conservation Alliance and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding is available below the fold.
According to the BLM news release, the MOU commits Federal agencies to bolster the collective capacity of the PCA Committee to leverage funds and tools through efforts with non-federal partners. The MOU calls for Federal agencies to assist non-Federal land managers in plant conservation and protection efforts. It also calls for innovative partnerships among public and private sectors, nationally and internationally, to conserve native plants and their habitats before they become critically endangered.
“This is an extraordinary union of such a diverse group of federal and non-federal partners,” said Healy Hamilton, chief scientist of NatureServe, a conservation non-profit that delivers the science behind effective conservation. “This partnership speaks to the importance of what we’ve presented here today: that so many people’s economic and ecological interests align when it comes to creating resilient native plants communities.”
The Committee Members include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Botanic Garden, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, USDA Forest Service, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.
The Smithsonian’s Department of Botany at the National Museum of Natural History has a history of signing MOUs to further the mission of the Department. In 2000, a MOU was signed between the National Museum of Natural History and the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the MOU was to greatly increase their interactions and enhance the overall mission of each institution through effective collaborations. The MOU between these “Botanical Partners on the Mall” facilitated jointly sponsored exhibits, educational planning, public display projects, and programs such as the annual Smithsonian Botanical Symposia.
In 2007 the Department of Botany and the New England Tropical Conservatory (NETC) signed a MOU for the Indonesian Botanical Exploration and Taxonomy Project (IBETP) to provide a framework for the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge, to undertake joint field research in Indonesia, and to enhance scientific and technical capabilities with respect to botany.
On the horizon is a possible MOU between the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany and Jardín Botánico de Bogotá, Colombia, and another MOU with Museo de Historia Natural at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Peru.
A video from NatureServe about the Plant Conservation Alliance and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding: