10 September 2019

Science and biodiversity at the Hay Festival, Mexico

By Kew Science News

Close up of prickly cacti under a blue sky

On Sunday 8 September, Dr Tiziana Ulian, Senior Research Leader, gave a talk with collaborator Dr Rafael Lira from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México titled “Biodiversity Today: Taking Care of our Planet” at the Hay Festival in Querétaro, Mexico. Hosted by Kew Ambassador, and diplomat, Andrés Rozental, the talk addressed the importance of plants to the planet and was focussed on Kew’s Useful Plants Project

Tiziana and Rafael explained how crucial it is for people to understand, and appreciate, the nature around them, so that they can act to conserve their native species which may have huge food, health and economic benefits. They also highlighted Mexico’s incredible paradise of plants. Mexico is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world with 10-12 per cent of the world’s plant species. 

Dr Tiziana Ulian said:

“It was fantastic to see so many engaged and passionate people from across Mexico attend our Kew Platform talk on how we can protect the plants of our planet. It highlights to me how increasingly important the environment (and the threats it faces) is becoming to people, and in particular young people. Seeing this interest and determination to act, makes me hopeful that we can conserve our extraordinary plant diversity before it’s too late.”

Tiziana on stage in front of Hay Festival backdrop with Andres ad Rafael
Tiziana Ulian (middle) at the Hay Festival Mexico. (C) RBG Kew.

Hay Festival is a not-for-profit organisation that brings readers and writers together to share stories and ideas in sustainable events around the world. 

Kew announced its international partnership with Hay in May 2019. The ‘Kew Platform’ is a series of Kew branded, environmentally focused discussions which will help to foster an understanding of the importance of protecting our planet and its unique biodiversity at a time of increased threats caused by land use changes and climate change, as well as pests and pathogens.

Kew will also be attending Hay Festival Arequipa, Peru (7-10 November 2019), Hay Festival Medellin, Colombia (29-31 January 2020) and Hay Festival Cartagena, Colombia (30 January-2 February 2020).

Our work in Mexico 

Tiziana, who leads the Diversity and Livelihoods team, researches the beneficial impacts of plant and fungal diversity for food security, human health and livelihoods to support communities in places where plants are of paramount importance nutritionally, economically and environmentally. Mexico is a focus of the team's work:

Useful Plants Project: Since 2007, working with local partners, the Useful Plants Project has been working to conserve and sustainably use indigenous plants which are important to local communities. The project recently saw the publication of the book “Wild Plants for a Sustainable Future” which documents 110 multipurpose plant species from five countries.

Conserving native useful trees: This project is working to conserve the seeds from native tree species that are used for food, medicine or fuel by local communities. Seeds will be stored in the Fes-I UNAM seed bank and duplicated in our Millennium Seed Bank.

Science-based conservation of tree species: Since 2015, this project has been implementing integrated in situ and ex situ conservation of tree species, prioritizing endemic, protected and useful plants important for the livelihoods of rural communities.

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