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Biodiversity and Culture: the role of Botanic Gardens at the Italian Festival in Singapore

The 2023 Italian Festival in Singapore gets into the swing of things with a focus on biodiversity, with two key meetings which have highlighted Italian and local partnership over such a crucial topic.

On May 25, the Function Hall at Botany Centre of the Botanical Gardens hosted the event “Past and present research on biodiversity at Padova Botanical Garden”. In such an evocative venue, Livio Trainotti, associate Professor of Botany at the Botanical Garden & Department of Biology at the University of Padova, covered iconic examples of how exotic plants have been studied there. Studies of such plants open the possibility of exploitation with huge economic and cultural consequences, using coffee as an example. The session also provided insights of the Botanical Garden’s ongoing activities on the conservation of locally rare and endangered species and on the understanding of plant genome diversity. In the captivating atmosphere of the Botanical Garden of Singapore, Prof. Trainotti further explored the historical collections in the herbaria, going back to its foundation in 1859.

On May 26, instead, the role of Botanic gardens was scrutinized in the event “New developments for the Padova Orto Botanico and Singapore Botanic Gardens”. The meeting, hosted by the Embassy of Italy in its “Sala Italia”, envisioned a comparative analysis by Prof. Livio Trainotti and Thereis Choo, Coordinating Director at the Singapore National Parks Board, whose brilliant illustrations and considerations were introduced by a welcome of the Ambassador Mario Vattani.

The events are the first direct consequence of the latest Memorandum of Understanding which was signed between the University of Padova and the National Parks Boards of Singapore. These institutions, which manage two out of the three botanic gardens having been awarded as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, have recently agreed on promoting the exchange of personnel and researchers, as well as the pooling of managerial experience, valuable information, materials, and the implementation of shared events and projects for 5 years, until 2027.

The meetings saw the participation of over 150 people, among which researchers, students, scholars in the field, as well as representatives of the Singapore UNESCO World Heritage Board. They constituted a first, pivotal step on which to build the rooted collaboration between these committed institutions towards the enhancement of scientific research and biodiversity, along with a further demonstration of the importance of culture and science in fostering the strategic partnership between Italy and Singapore.