Botanist – profession of the future?

With the rise of disciplines such as physiology, plant genetics and molecular biology, what place remains for botany today? This question will be raised at the “Botanists of the Twenty-first Century: Roles, Challenges and Opportunities” conference, organized at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (France) between 22 and 25 September.

Over 350 international scientists, academics, and representatives from political domains, civil society and the private sector, will participate in the three-day event. The meeting will look at the current state of botany, which evolved considerably over the 20th century, and address the issue of how the profession could adapt to the needs of modern science. The conference has four main topics: Botanists and Economic Challenges, Botanists and the Environmental Challenges, Botanists and the Social Challenges, and Botanists of Tomorrow.  

The first botanic gardens, created in the mid-sixteenth century, gave rise to the science of botany, which was further promoted by the great European expeditions. Descriptive at first, botany became more diversified over the centuries, developing such disciplines as physiology and phytosociology.

Despite a decline in the practice of botany in recent decades, the science is far from obsolete. To date, almost 350,000 plants have been catalogued, but an estimated 70,000 remain to be discovered. Moreover, the advances in technology have opened up new perspectives for the discipline’s development, including creating an international digital herbarium or computerized plant recognition technology.

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Media contacts: Agnès Bardon, Service de presse de l’UNESCO. Tel +33 (0) 1 45 68 17 64, a.bardon(at)unesco.org