Paul Smith

Dr Paul Smith

Dr Paul Smith
Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International


Dr Paul Smith is the Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). BGCI is the largest plant conservation network in the world, comprising >500 member botanic gardens in 100 countries. With a career spanning 25 years working in conservation and botanic gardens, Paul joined BGCI as Secretary General in March 2015.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary General of BGCI, Paul was Head of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank (MSB). During his nine years at the helm there, seeds from >25,000 plant species were conserved in the MSB and, in 2009, the MSB achieved its first significant milestone, securing seed from 10% of the world’s plant species, prioritising rare, threatened and useful plants. Since then, the MSB Partnership has set itself the target of conserving 25% of the world’s flora by 2020. During his tenure at the MSB, Paul and his team promoted the concept of seed banks as a resource for human innovation, adaptation and resilience, and, today, seeds from the MSB and its partner seed banks are being used in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and habitat restoration.

Paul trained as a plant ecologist, and is a specialist in the plants and vegetation of southern Africa. He is the author of two field guides to the flora of south-central Africa and the Vegetation Atlas of Madagascar. He is on the Board of the Linnean Society and is a Trustee of the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Paul is the recipient of the New England Wildflower Society’s Medal for Services to International Plant Conservation and the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration.