Harvard Arnold Arboretum’s 150-Year Love-Affair with the Biodiversity of China

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Join leading biodiversity expert Dr William Friedman for an evening as he reveals Harvard Arnold Arboretum’s extensive history of collaboration with Chinese scientists, and the race against time to catalogue China’s disappearing rare plant species.


China is one of the most biodiversity-rich countries in the world, harbouring nearly 10% of all plant species on Earth. Yet since at least the 1970s, China has witnessed severe declines among its higher plant species. Fast economic growth has led to massive ecological disruptions resulting in long-term economic and social consequences. The United Nation’s biodiversity chief has warned that biodiversity loss is a ‘silent killer’.

In the light of the pressing need for biodiversity preservation, the 8th Director of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum reveals rarely-seen early twentieth century photographs of China that document its magnificent landscape and capture the dramatic changes witnessed in China’s biodiversity today.

Dr Friedman is the Arnold Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary biology at Harvard. He has worked to expand the Arboretum’s societal impact through diverse initiatives in public programming, enhanced communication between scientists and the public, and a reinvigoration of the long-standing relationship between the Arboretum and the biodiversity of Asia. In early 2016, after four years of extensive planning, a ten-year initiative was launched to shape and augment the living collections of the Arnold Arboretum for the next century. Plant exploration around the globe will bring 400 species of woody plants, including many threatened with extinction, to this Frederick Law Olmsted-designed botanical garden in Boston.


When: 21 May 2019 - 21 May 2019 Where: Asia Society Hong Kong Center – 9 Justice Drive – Admiralty