American University of Beirut

Ancillary Botanic Garden


    ​In 2014, AUB and RBGE encouraged the establishment of a new category of botanic gardens termed ‘ancillary botanic gardens’ (ABG). Ancillary Botanic Gardens are an informal versions of botanic gardens meant to conserve plant species via ex-situ methods and provide cultural plant knowledge; these gardens are secondary in nature to the function of the site they occupy, whose primary purpose is often reserved for archaeological, educational, religious, or privatized and touristic purposes. Ancillary botanic gardens are not meant to interfere physically or functionally with the site’s primary purpose. The key aspect of ABGs is that they are secondary on a spatial level and established on lands already assigned a primary purpose; they can be established in schools and university campuses, private estates, private institutions, touristic sites, archaeological sites, and religious landholdings. In summary, an ABG is an area set aside for the growing and displaying of plants in an estate or institution.


    • The main objective of an ABG is to serve as a somewhat permanent plant educational and outreach outlet for people. Any additional objectives can be provided by the owner of the space or establishment which the ABG is contained within.​

    • The purpose of an ABG, be it large or small, is to grow and manage plants, keep them labeled, provide educational opportunities to visitors, and encourage the public in joining efforts to promote plant conservation. This does not preclude the fact that ABGs can be used for recreational purposes. The objectives considered by people interested in establishing botanic gardens are many; for example they can promote native plants, show plants with historical significance, showcase plants with a landscape value, shed light on the ecological and environmental values of plants, or provide a display of plants with cultural, edible, or medicinal value. People should not be deterred from establishing an ABG because the educational scope will vary based on their capacity and willingness to maintain the ABG. The important thing is to offer an opportunity for people to learn about plants in the community where the ABG is established. ​


    • Preserving local culture
      • At the cultural level, ABGs have an additional contribution in that they engage new constituencies because they may rely on local plant names. This will help sustain the transfer of traditional and ethnobotanical knowledge and facilitate the link between plants and people. ABGs could play an important supporting role because they act as ‘custodians’ for traditional land management practices and ethno-ecological knowledge. 
    • ​​​​​Educational purpose
      • A key aspect of ABGs is that unlike botanic gardens, their roles and scope are not prescribed by international standards. This however should not lead to the conclusion that ABGs are ‘mere’ public parks or pleasure gardens because they are implemented following a locally driven educational and outreach mission. ​

    How to establish

    With this new concept, individuals and institutions can now transform open areas that they own into botanic gardens. After the announcement of AUB campus as a botanic garden, inquiries from individuals and institutions have been received for information concerning how to transform existing spaces into botanic gardens. The AUB Botanic Garden is prepared to give advice and consultation on the plant identification of the specified ABG site during the establishment phase and assist in the design process if requested.

    Traditional botanic gardens are often evaluated based on International standards for botanic gardens based on the Botanic Gardens Conservation International, while ABG’s are not restricted to such standards and are informal enough as to allow many different establishments to invest in conservation efforts. ABGs applies conservation practices with community use of the space, balance conservation principles and human use, thus prompting ecological landscape design and planning as a suitable framework for their implementation. Two overarching principles contribute to ABG guidelines: the multiscale aspect of the resulting ABG network and the multi-functionality of individual sites.

    Once a space within a site is planned to be established as an ABG, the design process and any design interventions, along with the ABG’s objectives within the site normally would include minimal to no interference with the primary function of the site.

    Ancillary botanic gardens are secondary in nature, being established on a site which already has its own separate function. These sites are managed by the landowner or the local community who occupy or own the space, and are accessible to the public but are restricted and protected through specific legislation and policies of which the owner chooses to abide by.

    Steps to establish

    • ​Planning
      • Provide a background that links the planned ABG with the institution/individual by producing a historical narrative linking the two (included in registration form).
      • Integrate the ABG in the growth and planning strategy of the institution/estate.
    • Design
      • Stimulate the pleasure of learning by providing recreational opportunities by means of walks, and beautiful displays.
    • Management
      • ​Form an ‘internal’ (and external) committee of champions for the management and promotion of the ABG .
      • Estimate annual expenses needed for proper management, display, and education.
      • Adopt sustainable practices when managing the ABG.
    • Education
      • Define your educational goal (scientific, cultural, commercial, …).
      • Define your target visitors (neighbors, village community, school students, customers….).
      • Label all the plants whether by their scientific or common names​.
      • Provide partial access to the public by organizing visiting days, tours, and events​.
      • Prepare information material to share with public during visiting days, tours, events….
    • Communication
      • Promote the establishment of other ABGs by open sharing knowledge and information.
      • Join the ABG network established by AUB-RBGE.
      • Use digital platform and social media to promote the newly established ABG.

    Contact Us

    For various questions, please try contacting us via social media first!
    read more

    Privacy Statement

    We take data privacy seriously and adhere to all applicable data privacy laws and regulations.
    read more

    Copyright and Disclaimer

    Written permission is needed to copy or disseminate all or part of the materials on the AUB website.
    read more

    Title IX, Non-Discrimination, and Anti-Discriminatory Harassment

    AUB is committed to providing a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment to all members of its community.
    read more