Meeting Location: Desert Botanical Garden – Dorrance Hall

Meeting Time: 2:00 p.m

Presenter: Michiel Pillet

Michiel Pillet is the program officer of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Cactus and Succulent Plants Specialist Group hosted by the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, and a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at The University of Arizona in Tucson. Dedicated to cactus conservation, he studies the impact of climate change on cacti. He became interested in cacti as a teenager growing up in Belgium, where he had a small cactus collection. When Michiel moved to Tucson in 2016, things quickly got out of hand. In 2021, he opened a conservation-focused cactus nursery, Prickly Prospects (, which focuses on ethical propagation of the most endangered species. He is involved in conservation projects with botanical gardens across the world. He believes strongly in the importance of holistic conservation management including both research in the field, as well as safeguarding the future of cacti by cultivating them. While he tries to avoid picking favorites, he’s partial to columnar cacti, Brazilian species, and opuntiads.

Presentation: Common-sense Cactus Conservation in the 21st Century

Cacti are one of the most endangered groups of organisms on the planet, besieged by poaching, habitat destruction, and climate change.  Properly conserving our prickly friends in this changing world requires a paradigm shift in the way we view conservation, as well as increased collaboration between stakeholders from all levels of society.

From top to bottom:

  • The endangered Uebelmannia pectinifera from Brazil is predicted to lose nearly 75% of its range due to climate change.
  • Expected changes in cactus diversity by 2070 under climate change. Yellow/brown areas indicate regions with predicted losses, and blue areas suggest increases.
  • Weberocereus frohningiorum is a critically endangered species from Costa Rica and is rare in cultivation as well. Secrecy surrounding locality information can reduce poaching, but may also inhibit ex-situ and in-situ conservation efforts.