The University of Bologna Botanical Gardens: proposal for a tech-savvy walk throughout history

A. Minelli, E. Felice, I. Pasini, M.E. Giorgioni, F. Orsini
Botanical gardens in Italy are facing a severe crisis and many of them are under risk to disappear. The Botanical Gardens of the University of Bologna (UBBGs) contains one of the eldest germplasm collections in the world. Currently, the ageing of the living arboreal collection poses typical problems associated with senescence, with some specimens already being lost. Furthermore, social recognition and emotional attachment from the local citizens are weak. In the present paper, a proposal for the recovery and regeneration of the UBBGs is structured in three subsequent phases. Primarily, the detection of physiological and mechanical issues in arboreal collection occurs by visual and instrumental analyses. A GIS-based system links the data to each tree and allows to upload them in digital databases. In the second phase, iconic “totem” trees are selected to host GPS-triggered interpretive features available to users via digital application on mobile devices. To make use of them, people are asked to log in and supply basic information, including (I) age class, (II) provenance, (III) time for visiting, and (IV) reasons for visiting. Extemporary quizzes, digital puzzles, and themed treasure hunts are also delivered during the tour basing on visitors' information and played features. At the end of the tour, personal satisfaction is assessed by a star-rating system, besides the selection of the most and least enjoyed features. In the last phase, satellite gardens are newly established, in neglected or abandoned urban sites, and users are also involved in data collection; therefore, fostering participatory citizen science. Hence, a long-term management plan for the arboreal collections is defined. Technological features improve the accessibility and intelligibility of UBBGs to visiting people, reviving their educational and recreational roles.
Minelli, A., Felice, E., Pasini, I., Giorgioni, M.E. and Orsini, F. (2020). The University of Bologna Botanical Gardens: proposal for a tech-savvy walk throughout history. Acta Hortic. 1298, 49-58
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1298.9
ex situ plant collection restoration, interactive learning, plant genetic resource conservation, citizen science

Acta Horticulturae