Funding boost to online conservation of world plants

 Key funding boost to online conservation of world plants

An ambitious commitment by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) – working with likeminded institutes around the world – to deliver an online catalogue of the world’s plants has received a significant boost of $227,000. The funding, from the New York based Trustees of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will support the RBGE element of a coordinated digital database of images and information on plants of the world.

The Garden, in association with partners at home and abroad, is at the forefront of a range of projects contributing to the objectives of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. It not only provides information and practical assistance on the conservation of plants and trees known in their habitats around the world, it also continues to describe species new to science at an average rate of around one per week.

However, there is a fight against time to ensure that plants are documented. Only then can scientists establish which of these are endangered or important sources of food, medicines and materials of economic or cultural value. A comprehensive inventory of plant life is vital if their full potential is to be realised before many species, and the possibilities they offer, become extinct. A shared digital database will play a crucial role in the overall work being done by botanic gardens.

“The combined expertise of botanic gardens and other biodiversity institutes around the world can contribute hugely in providing the baseline information needed to develop improved approaches to conserve the Earth’s botanical diversity,” explained Professor Pete Hollingsworth, RBGE Director of Science. “We have a significant task ahead but, by working in partnership, we can deliver the information required to take forward these ambitions. We cannot overstate the importance of funding from trusts such as The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in achieving our goals.”

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EDITOR’S NOTES

For more information, images and interviews, please contact Shauna Hay on 0131 248 2900, Sandra Donnelly on 0131 248 1037.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation under the laws of the State of New York, was formed on June 30, 1969, through the consolidation of two existing foundations - Avalon Foundation and Old Dominion Foundation.

It makes grants in five core areas:

Higher Education and Scholarship

Scholarly Communications and Information Technology

Art History, Conservation and Museums

Performing Arts

Conservation and the Environment

Institutions and programmes receiving support are often leaders in their fields. However, they may also be promising newcomers, or in a position to demonstrate new ways of overcoming obstacles to achieve their goals.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a leading international research organisation delivering knowledge, education and plant conservation action in more than 80 countries around the world. In Scotland its four Gardens at Edinburgh, Benmore, Dawyck and Logan attract nearly a million visitors each year. It operates as a Non Departmental Public Body established under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, principally funded by the Scottish Government. It is also a registered charity, managed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. Its mission is “exploring and explaining the world of plants for a better future.” Learn more: www.rbge.org.uk

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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)