Research &

Alpine Plant Conservation

Plant conservation is an integral part of Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Our goal is to educate visitors about the deterioration of plant biodiversity around the world and particularly the vulnerability of the world's high alpine flora.

At 8,200 feet on the Roof of the Rockies, Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is uniquely positioned to address conservation of the fragile alpine environment. The Gardens has partnered with Denver Botanic Gardens to author the North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Alpine Plant Conservation. Through a series of Objectives and Targets the goal of the strategy is to create a plan for protecting North America’s alpine plants.

The Alpine Strategy

The North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Alpine Plant Conservation

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) was developed due to the need for a global vision to protect plants. The GSPC initiated excitement and rallied conservation organizations and particularly botanic gardens to a joint plant conservation cause. As a result of the GSPC, other strategies, both international and country based, have been developed, all with specific objectives for conserving plants. The North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Alpine Plant Conservation is one such strategy, and was published in 2020. This is the document that guides our conservation work here at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.

Our areas
of focus

In Situ Conservation

Working with plants in their natural setting is always a priority.

Important Plant Areas

Identifying the most important alpine plant communities is critical to understanding conservation priorities. Important Plant Areas (IPA’s) are areas with high species richness as well as areas with rare and threatened species.

Monitoring and Understanding

Plant monitoring techniques are used to gain an understanding of population changes year by year. This information can help make informed decisions for conservation.

Ex Situ Conservation

In contrast to work conducted in the wild population, ex situ efforts focus on creating conservation collections in the botanical garden setting, such as banking seed and propagation studies

Seed Banking

Banking seed from wild populations is an important step for preserving species for the next generation

Propagation Studies

Working to understand how to grow plants from seed is critical to their conservation.

Planting Succulents at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens


Botanical Gardens are uniquely positioned to spread the word.

Programs and Exhibits

The Gardens creates a changing annual theme focused on fragile mountain ecosystems to engage new and returning visitors of all ages. Fresh exhibits and family activities match the always updated themes. The intention is to provide significant experiences that lead to a lifetime of conservation behaviors

Traveling Toolkits and Alpine Curriculum

Toolkits that can travel to classrooms, botanic gardens and other informal learning environments is part of the outreach strategy. An alpine ecosystem curriculum will also be designed for botanic garden staff, docents and visitors of all ages.

Global Efforts

Organizations all over the world are mobilizing in an effort to conserve plants and their habitats

State of the World’s Plants and Fungi

Despite best efforts, there are still huge gaps in our knowledge of global plant and fungal diversity and distribution. Understanding what taxa live where is critical to conservation and preserving biodiversity. The 2023 State of the World’s Plants and Fungi, from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, focuses on the latest knowledge on the diversity and geographical distribution of plants and fungi by drawing from two major advances: the World Checklist of Vascular Plants, and new information on fungal diversity from environmental DNA and fungarium specimens. This report is based on the research of many scientists across the world. A collection of open-access articles entitled “Global Plant Diversity and Distribution” is available from New Phytologist and Plants, People, Planet here, and a review of global fungal diversity from the Annual Review of Environment and Resources here.

Download the State of the World’s Plants and Fungi (PDF), here.

Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

The Global Strategy for Plant Conservation – a Plan to Save the World’s Plant Species – grew out of the Convention on Biological Diversity and is influencing government policy around the world. The GSPC highlights the importance of plants and the ecosystem services they provide for all life on Earth, and aims to ensure their conservation. The GSPC, with its 16 targets, was first adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2002. The GSPC targets were renewed and updated in 2010.


Betty Ford Alpine Gardens became on official member of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation in 2023 acknowledging the important role the Gardens play in implementing the GSPC. You can find more information about the GPPC by clicking the link  here.

International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Plant Conservation

The International Agenda for Botanic Gardens in Plant Conservation (IABGC) was a policy framework for botanic gardens worldwide to contribute to biodiversity conservation and to demonstrate how their work contributed to policies such as the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). IABGC was first published in 2000 following the publication in 1989 of the Botanic Gardens Conservation Strategy by the Botanic Gardens Conservation Secretariat of the IUCN (now Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI)).

North American Strategy for Plant Conservation

Plant diversity is indispensable. Beyond sustaining a healthy planet, it impacts societal, economic, and political stability. The aspirations described in the Stategy provide a useful framework to focus local and regional plant conservation efforts toward the collective achievement of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC).

Botanic Gardens Conservation International

Botanic Gardens Conservation International’s work focuses on plant conservation, public engagement, services for botanic gardens, and training and capacity building.

Center for Plant Conservation

The Center for Plant Conservation (CPC) is a one-of-a-kind network of conservation partners, collectively known as CPC Participating Institutions (PIs; now including more than 65 institutions), that collaboratively work to save the imperiled plants of the United States throughout their native range.

Baobab Trees - Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Partnerships & Community Science Projects

iNat Logo - Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Colorado Alpine EcoFlora Project

Join us in an effort to document alpine plant diversity!

As part of the first objective of the Alpine Strategy: to understand and document alpine plant diversity, we are interested in knowing where alpine plants are, and when they are blooming. To this end, we developed the Colorado Alpine EcoFlora Project, a community-science botany project powered by iNaturalist, the free, easy-to-use nature identification app. The two goals of this project are: 1. Increase awareness of and appreciation for alpine plants in Colorado; and 2. Obtain research-grade observational data from around the state that will help us understand distributions of alpine plants.

River Watch Logo - Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Project River Watch

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens staff are voluntary stewards who work with Colorado River Watch to monitor water quality and other indicators of Gore Creek watershed health. Data has been collected statewide since 1989 and is instrumental in crafting informed water resources policy in addition to educating citizens about the health of Colorado’s streams. River Watch is a statewide volunteer water quality-monitoring program operated by the nonprofit 501©3 Colorado Watershed Assembly in cooperation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. There are approximately 120 different organizations actively participating in the program.

Samples are collected monthly, which are analyzed in-house for hardness, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, pH and temperature. Additional samples are analyzed at the CPW Laboratory in Fort Collins for total and dissolved metals. Twice a year nutrient samples are tested for ammonia, chloride, sulfate, total suspended solids, total phosphorous, nitrate and nitrite. One physical habitat assessment accompanies an annual macroinvertebrate sample which is sent to an outside lab for identification.

River Watch data is stored on an internet server and can be accessed by anyone. All the data are reviewed and validated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife before it is made public. The high quality River Watch data is currently utilized by the Water Quality Control Commission, CPW, and many grass roots level watershed groups in the state for the management of Colorado’s waters.

Water Sampling at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
Project Budburst Logo - Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Project Budburst

Project Budburst, sponsored by the Chicago Botanic Gardens, is a collection of researchers, educators, gardeners, and community scientists working together to illustrate the human impacts on the natural world around us. Together they tell that story through data collection, data sharing, education, and personal connections.

Researchers use the data collected by community scientists to address important environmental questions and contribute to lasting conservation action to preserve the planet.

Center for Plant Conservation Logo - Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Center for Plant Conservation

CPC safeguards rare plants by advancing science-based conservation practices, connecting and empowering plant conservationists, and inspiring all to protect biodiversity for future generations.

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is a Partner Institution in this national effort to protect North America’s rare natural flora. CPC shares best practices for plant conservation and coordinates efforts between organizations.

Learn More...

Blue Gentian - Betty Ford Alpine Gardens
Colorado Pika Project Logo - Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Colorado Pika Project

In the face of a climate crisis, the Colorado Pika Project is engaging community scientists to conserve the American pika and safeguard the health of alpine ecosystems in Colorado.

The Colorado Pika Project is a research project implemented by community scientists across Colorado. Through long-term monitoring of pika populations, we are not only providing useful data to researchers and land managers, but we are doing so in a way that educates and engages Coloradans in conservation and the local impacts of climate change.

Three Gardens' staff members are trained to collect data on the American Pika during hikes in the alpine.

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