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The Red Butte Garden Conservation and Research Department focuses on three major areas of research: Conserving Rare Plants, Developing Useful Plants, and Improving Wild Land Development.

Sarah Jack Hinners, PhD, LFA

Director of Conservation and Research or 801-585-5853

What kind of work do we do?

We are stewards of the at-risk plants in our region, and protecting them is a key component of Red Butte Garden’s mission. We hope to mitigate threats and preserve genetic information so that rare populations may recover in their native habitats, thereby conserving the biodiversity of our native flora and fauna.

In-situ conservation is work that is in the area where the plant naturally grows. We collect plant samples and seeds to study later, monitor populations, transplant endangered species out of harm’s way, and re-vegetate with seeds or seedlings in their native habitats.

Ex-situ conservation is work that is done at Red Butte Garden or at other facilities around the West. This work involves off-site storing seeds in seed banks to preserve the genetic material, testing seed germination and viability to better understand how to propagate a species, and studying living specimens that have been propagated or salvaged from project sites.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the number of different species of plants and animals found within a particular region, or ecosystem. The more diverse an ecosystem, meaning the more plants, animals, insects, and bacteria living within it, the healthier it is. A biodiverse ecosystem has more resources to draw on that allow it to bounce back from disturbances, adapt to long-term changes, and support the communities within it, wild or cultivated.

Why does it matter?

While biodiversity is critical for the sake of the environment in and of itself, there are a number of reasons biodiversity should matter to people. Plant diversity provides us with key ingredients and products that feed us, shelter us, keep us healthy, and fuel our economy. To destroy a species, actively or unknowingly, is to destroy its potential for generations to come.