Botanic Gardens at the crossroads: the ecologically significant resources in the global system of social coordinates in 21st century

Botanic Garden of Irkutsk State University, Irkutsk, Russia

Today, many prominent russian scientists and decision makers agree that in the current situation the ecology is not just a science, but also, to a large extent, a vital security issue of the humankind. This work presents a comprehensive scientific analysis of the 300-year period of development of botanic gardens (BGs) in the East Asia and the world proving the idea that modern botanic gardens are a special type of socially oriented environmental agencies in urbanized areas. In this article, which is based on special studies and fundamental research, we have attempted to review how the role played by BGs in the society had been changing during the decades of socio-economic development; how their appearance had transformed from the monastery and "apothecary" gardens to the modern university and academic institutions and cross-discinplinary public complexes. In addition to their calassical roles as documented collections for science, education, conservation and a display their new objectives go beyond the gardenís fence. Due to their scientific, educational and plant resources, they can be regarded as a unique anti-crisis "tool" helping people from different layers of society to adjust to global environmental change and promoting the sustainable development of our civilization. BGs in countries and regions became important impact factors of tourist attractiveness and a regional competitiveness. A mission change of contemporary BGs and their transformation from just botanical and horticultural organizations of agricultural type into multifunctional socio-ecological objects and regional multi-utility is considered. The problems of the development of the innovative project of the ecological technopark and a public recreational complex based on the Irkutsk University Botanic Garden resources is described. The economic and institutional problems of the project development are analyzed in relation to a tourists attractiveness, an introduction of ecological innovations and a public-private partnership for the competitiveness of the regions.

© 2012 Organizing Committee