Introduction

Plant collection and display, particularly in the form of botanical gardens, have a long history, dating back several hundred years. Without having the explicit objective of conserving plant species, botanical gardens became the first conservation sites for plants, and are still an important conservation institution. Since then, the range of conservation instruments for genetic resources has expanded. There is, however, a fundamental divergence of views on what objectives should be the focus of the conservation of genetic diversity. Ethical aims oriented at preserving all existing biodiversity stand in opposition to anthropocentric objectives which consider genetic diversity only worth maintaining to the extent that it serves human kind at present or in the future. Conservation policies will be pursued with quite different sets of instruments and conservation methods depending on the objectives and the costs implied. In this chapter, in situ conservation methods shall be described, and the costs related to these conservation methods shall be analyzed. This chapter seeks to demonstrate that despite the intensive multilateral discussions regarding the potential and the political will of various countries to foster in situ conservation activities (see Chapter 9), the direct costs have not yet been assessed, much less the related indirect costs which will be even more difficult to assess.

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