The Botanical Garden’s Caribbean Biodiversity Program focuses on the Wider Caribbean Region comprising insular and coastal states and territories with coasts on the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico as well as waters of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to these states and territories. This semi-enclosed region is home to many varied ecosystems, including sea-grass beds, mangrove stands, coastal forests with extensive river systems, cloud forests on high mountain peaks—and many plant species found nowhere else. Among the threats to the unique plant diversity in the Wider Caribbean Region are habitat loss from population and tourism pressures, habitat contamination from oil spills and other toxic wastes, unsustainable agriculture and forestry practices, and climate change and sea level rise.
For more than a century, Garden scientists have been partnering with local people and international colleagues to explore, understand, conserve, and manage the incredible plant diversity of the Wider Caribbean Region. In the process, the Garden has amassed the world’s largest and most important collection of Caribbean plant and fungal specimens and associated scholarly literature for use by Garden scientists, local colleagues, and the international community of scientists, students, and scholars.