Since its foundation, the Botanical Garden of Padova has been a place not only devoted to preservation and cataloguing of vegetable species, but also, above all, to scientific research.
Since its foundation, the Botanical Garden of Padova has been a place not only devoted to preservation and cataloguing of vegetable species, but also, above all, to scientific research. In its almost five century of activity, the Botanical Garden has witnessed the evolution of botany, from a science applied to medicine to a pure science, which has gradually become different and structured in the present numerous specialized branches. During this centuries-old evolution, it has always maintained a high standard of scientific and educational activity, unceasingly adapting the living collections to the changed demands related to the progress of botany disciplines.
At the beginning of the third millennium, the Botanical Garden of Padova carries on with a qualified up-to-date scientific and educational activity, following the Edinburgh agreement approved by the European community of Botanists in 1997. According to this document, the historical botanical gardens, despite their small dimensions and their peculiar architectonical features, that very often act as constraining factors, still can and must play a scientific role, adapting the collections and the research programmes not only to the current scientific demands but also to the existing structures. In accordance with the principles set by the Edinburgh agreement, the Botanical Garden of Padova hosts today some living collections that answer to the current research and higher education demands, in line both with its centuries-old tradition (there still exists a section dedicated to medicinal plants, continuously updated with the insert of plants newly introduced in therapy and hosting some medicinal plants of the past too), and with the choices of modern botanical gardens (systematic classifications, collections of spontaneous plants typical of the area), and particularly with new emerging priorities, such as the preservation of biodiversity. This latter activity in particular (in situ preservation) is carried out both with the institution of parks and protected areas and with the preservation of the genetic potential (germplasm) of single species, by means of the institution of sperm banks where this material is collected and stored, aiming to a potential new diffusion in the natural environment (ex situ preservation) too.
Already since 1985, the Botanical Garden of Padova has promoted the ex situ preservation of rare spontaneous and menaced plants of the Northeast Italy. Since 1992 a Germplasm Bank has been also instituted for the low-temperature preservation of the seeds of such species, according to internationally shared techniques. Since 2005 the Garden is a member of RIBeS, the Italian Network of Germplasm Banks for the ex situ preservation of the spontaneous Italian flora. The preservation of biodiversity has recently being performed with in vitro micro-propagation techniques too. Pursuing the centuries-old tradition of international relations, the paduan garden carries out a seed exchange programme with numerous (about 800) botanical gardens all over the world, respecting the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Janeiro, 1992). The common effort of the botanical gardens in Europe and in the world is to keep safe the germplasm of endangered vegetables, so that the preservation of biodiversity is ensured. Finally, such as similar university institutions, both Italian and foreign, the paduan botanical garden carries out intense educational and popular activity and different types of researches, and it is concerned with the preservation of rare and menaced vegetable species.