Plant Conservation

Study plant conservation online. Professional development course for anyone working in or with a passion for plants, the environment, land management and conservation. Protect and manage rare and vulnerable plant species.

Course Code: BHT346
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to Protect Threatened Plants

  • Contribute professionally or as a volunteer or activist
  • Better manage appropriate conservation initiatives
  • Restore damaged sites
  • Formulate plans

Why Study Plant Conservation?

Here are some of the most compelling reasons why you should study this course.

  • Action is Needed - 25+% of plants are endangered, habitat loss is rampant, 83 % of endangered species are threatened by human activity.
  • Plants are valuable - previously unknown commercial uses are constantly being discovered for plants -many are going extinct before we even know their value.
  • Work Opportunities - Employment, business & career opportunities are getting stronger and more prolific in plant conservation.
  • Climate Protection (mitigating global warming) - Ethical reasons - Conserving wildlife - Protecting the economy.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Plant Conservation
    • Introduction
    • Eight Principles for Conservation Success
    • Raising Awareness
  2. Policy, Legislation, and Organisations
    • International Conventions and Legislation
    • National Conventions and Legislation
    • Conservation Organisations
  3. Protection and Preventing Degradation
    • Protected Areas
    • Planning For Protected Areas
    • How The Red List Is Used
    • Land Sparing and Sharing
    • Weeds
    • Soil Degradation
    • Pollinator Management
  4. Restoration of Damaged Ecosystems
    • Restoring Ecosystems
    • Restoration Projects
    • Principles Of Ecological Restoration
    • Stages Of Ecological Restoration
  5. Restoring Populations
    • Establishing A New Self-Propagating Population
    • Long-Term Storage of Germplasm
    • A Successful Case-Study – The International Conifer Conservation Programme
    • The Pivotal Role of Horticulture in Plant Conservation
  6. Genetic Conservation
    • Assessment Of Genetic Diversity in Plants
    • Need For Germ Plasm Conservation
    • Germplasm Storage and Conservation
    • Recording And Recalling Evolutionary History
  7. Ecosystem Conservation
    • Ecosystem Conservation – Pollinators, Soils, Environments
    • Forest Conservation
    • Soil Conservation
    • Pollinators
    • Drone Conservation
  8. Community Action
    • Citizen Science and Collaboration
    • Community-Led Conservation
    • First Nations Involvement
    • Raising Awareness
  9. Adjusting to Environmental Change – The Future of Conservation
    • Conservation And Climate Changes
    • Plant Responses to Climate Changes
    • Novel Threats To Plants as A Result of Climate Changes
    • Natural Capital
    • Nature-Based Solutions
    • Ex-Situ Conservation of Plants
    • Conservation Of Plants of Plants in The Anthropocene

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss the nature and scope of plant conservation.
  • Determine problems and challenges associated with plant conservation in different specific situations.
  • Formulate protection measures for plant conservation, appropriate to the circumstances in different situations.
  • Determine restoration measures to be undertaken for achieving plant conservation.
  • Explain a variety of ex situ conservation measures for threatened plant populations.
  • Explain the application of genetics to plant conservation.
  • Explain ecosystem conservation methods used for plant conservation.
  • Explain a variety of community action initiatives that may be used for plant conservation.
  • Explain ways to respond to environmental change in order to better conserve plant species and populations.
  • Formulate plans to manage appropriate conservation initiatives for threatened plants.

Plant Conservation Starts with Protecting what we have

Prevention of damage in the first place is best. Despite good intentions though, problems arise from:

  • Insufficient legal protection – governments ignoring the protection
  • Insufficient practical protection on the ground – poaching, mining, logging
  • Threats from beyond the fences that cannot be controlled
  • The concept of offsetting that can justify damaging one area in return for protecting somewhere else
  • The fact that the drivers for the damage may come from other countries.  Research demonstrates that in some regions it is not the local populations who are driving the damage, but external companies and actors.  

Climate changes might mean that the protected areas need to be moved, though this is considered quite controversial, and is beyond the scope of this lesson.  
Factors used when prioritising which areas should be protected include:

  • Species richness
  • Level of endemism
  • Red List status of the species present
  • Ecosystem services to humans
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Cost of the land

Schemes that work best are those where indigenous and local people can derive income from the protected area.


Protected areas are an important part of plant conservation. A protected area is a space that has been set aside specifically for conservation purposes. The IUCN notes that these areas are set aside for long-term goals and are an important part of maintaining biodiversity. 
Protected areas include:

  • national parks
  • nature reserves
  • wilderness parks and reserves
  • community conserved areas.

These are found across a variety of ecosystems and include marine protection zones. Each country is responsible for defining its own protected areas. In some cases, activist groups and organisations may work with policy makers to have specific areas declared protected.

Protected areas allow for conservation to occur early, before significant degradation has occurred, and restoration efforts become necessary. Generally, protected areas are places with high levels of biodiversity, but also which contribute significantly to the country’s ecological landscape in some way. This may be through resources, heritage, cultural significance, and richness of species. Hawaii, for example, is one of the most species-rich areas on Earth, and species richness within several areas (such as Kauai) has contributed to helping declare protected areas in the US state. 

It is important to remember that protected areas preserve not just individual plant species but ecosystems. Plant conservation focussed on a single species level in the wild has rarely been effective, preserving ecosystems, however, has been much more successful. This is because the preservation of an ecosystem recognises the depth of the interconnection of species within the area, from the basics of producer and consumer through to the subtle links of root networks which help prevent erosion along a riverbank, or the different species which contribute to the formation of leaf litter and tree mast which allow for seed dispersal via small animal species. 


Who Should Study Plant Conservation?

This is subject that needs to be understood by many professions; not only plant conservationists.

People with a stake in, and the potential to influence plant conservation include:

  • Land owners and land managers
  • Politicians
  • Lawyers
  • Academics professional scientists, biologists
  • Teachers
  • Citizens/volunteers. 


Talk to us and find out more about this course; or enrol today

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is an organisational member of the Future Farmers Network.
ACS is an organisational member of the Future Farmers Network.
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
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Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

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We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

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Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

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More information is here

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Mitchell Skiller

Mitchell has over 25 year’s experience in the horticultural industry. He has held positions as a supervising horticulturist, landscaper, consultant, and a business owner growing cut flowers, specialising in tropicals.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.

Marie Beermann

Marie has more than 10 years experience in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M. Sc. Hort., Dip. Bus., Cert. Ldscp.

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