All of NTBG’s programs in conservation, education, and scientific research have the common goal of ensuring the survival of tropical plants, their ecosystems, and cultural knowledge. The living collections within the gardens provide safe havens for many imperiled plant species, laboratories for scientists to study them, and resources for a wide range of educational courses.
Fundamental to each of the gardens are their living collections. While all of the gardens are beautiful, of primary importance is that the collections serve research, conservation, and educational purposes. Thousands of species have been gathered from throughout the tropical world to form an exceptional resource. Among NTBG’s living collections is the largest assemblage of endemic plants from Hawai‘i and the Pacific region, as well as the most comprehensive collection of breadfruit cultivars in the world.
Conservation initiatives include collecting expeditions throughout Hawai‘i and the Pacific region to identify plant species that are at risk of extinction and to collect seeds and plant material for propagation and conservation in the living collections. Other projects focus on ecological restoration of degraded habitats, protecting the endemic species that still exist, and reintroducing species which have not survived on their own.
Scientific Research underlies all of the NTBG programs. Its focus is on identifying, documenting, understanding, and conserving the rich diversity of tropical plants and their habitats. The collections -- living, herbarium, and library -- provide rich resources to NTBG staff, as well as to researchers and students around the world.
The Breadfruit Institute incorporates both the conservation of germplasm, and horticultural and nutritional research. Varieties of breadfruit that no longer exist on their native islands are being preserved in NTBG’s gardens. Protocols are being developed to mass-produce plants in vitro for distribution to tropical countries where hunger is a critical issue.
Education programs reach out to a wide audience -- from young children to adults; from college, university, or graduate students to teachers and college professors; from professionals in medicine or environmental journalism to the general public. Through a combination of targeted courses, work-study programs, public presentations, and visits to the gardens, the NTBG promotes understanding of tropical plants and their ecosystems, which is the first step in protecting them.