feature interview However they are only tools and networks will not create themselves. It is the professional association that provides the focus, the hub of the network and social media should then be used to build on this. For example, social media can help to create communities of practice around certain issues within an association; it can enhance communication between members and new technologies can support a wide range of online and virtual learning opportunities. I think it is up to the professional associations to embrace and use social media – after all, associations are there to bring together and support like-minded people, and social media can surely only enhance this function.
Most professional associations produce a journal/magazine at least a couple of times a year. What value do these now have when information is available ‘everywhere’? I think it is particularly useful when such journals have a different but specific theme for each issue – as is the case for THE BOTANIC GARDENer. This then provides an opportunity to put together in one place a range of views, information and case studies around a topic. Even though information is available ‘everywhere’, it is nice to know that you can readily find the particular information that is relevant to your own area of interest compiled in one place. Even if the journal only exists in electronic format, it still exists as a published entity, which can be referenced and kept for use in the future. Many professional association journals are also not peer-reviewed and therefore provide an opportunity for publishing case studies and other information with less of a pure research focus.
Receiving a book marking the 200th anniversary of the Ljublijana Botanic Garden in Slovenia.
What do you think is the best relationship to establish between the various professional associations? I’m thinking of BGCI, APGA, IABG, European Botanic Gardens Consortium, BGANZ and others. This is quite a difficult question to answer as BGCI has quite different relationships with the various professional associations you mention. Our closest relationship is probably with the European Botanic Gardens Consortium, which I think provides an interesting model. Here the Consortium is already a ‘network of networks’, with each Consortium member being the representative of a national network. BGCI provides Secretariat and logistic support to the Consortium and this is made possible through a voluntary ‘membership fee’ paid by the Consortium members (or their networks) to BGCI. BGCI is seen very much as an ‘honest broker’, able to guide and support the work of the Consortium, but without being influenced by specific national interests. In return, the Consortium members promote BGCI’s activities within their networks and help us to reach a wider audience.
the botanic gardener | ISS 43 November 2015