Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Charity registered in Scotland SC007983

The RBGE is an international centre of excellence in plant science and horticulture.  It undertakes a wide educational programme for every stage in life, is one of Scotland’s leading tourist destinations,  and is a centre for community engagement and recreation – connecting plants to people.

First and foremost, the Garden is a scientific institution focussed on understanding and conserving the world’s plant diversity.  Its work on accelerating species discovery facilitates a wide range of conservation projects around the world, and its expertise in DNA sequencing provides important insights into plant evolution and ecology.  This research is underpinned by one of the richest collections of wild plant species in the world, an herbarium containing three million preserved plant specimens and a highly acclaimed specialist library and archive.


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Trustees - Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

  • Management Board
  • Unpaid
  • Edinburgh
  • Closing 25th February 2021

Appointments to the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Appointments commencing on 1 May 2021 and 16 September 2021

Scottish Ministers are looking to appoint up to three Members to the Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) in each of the following three areas:

  • Continue to develop as a successful visitor attraction.
  • Guide our excellent biodiversity science in the areas of research, policy and funding.
  • Develop our wide ranging national and international education programme.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The RBGE’s mission is “to explore, conserve and explain the world of plants for a better future”. We contribute significantly to the Scottish Government’s National outcomes, not only though protecting and enhancing our environment, but also in the fields of economic development, education and skills development, social inclusion and international cooperation. As we begin our next 350 years our science and research remain resolutely focused on the global biodiversity crisis and the climate emergency.

The challenges of the last year, due in large part to humankind’s rapacious and unrelenting inroads into the natural world, have highlighted our awareness of interdependencies: the interdependence of human and environmental health, and the interdependence of social justice and sustainable development.

Our work is guided by three themes:

  • Unlocking knowledge and understanding of plants and fungi for the benefit of society.
  • Conserving and developing botanical collections as a global resource.
  • Enriching and empowering individuals and communities through learning and engagement with plants and fungi.

The Garden is an outstanding scientific institution. At the international level we are a global scientific resource, providing expertise, training, and information, working with partners around the world to conserve ecosystems and protect natural capital. We work with and in many countries but have a particular focus in South America, South East Asia, Nepal and the Sino-Himalaya, and the Middle East. Our projects help to reduce plant extinctions and target scarce resources and include research that underpins the conservation of the rapidly disappearing dry forests of Latin America, leading the International Conifer Conservation programme, and identifying disease resistant genes and traits in wild crop relatives.

In Nepal we are leading the production of the first comprehensive guide to its flora and assisting with training, community engagement and conservation programmes. At the national level, we are Scotland’s botanical institute playing a significant role in delivering the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, addressing the major challenge of plant health and giving Government access to scientific excellence. Current conservation projects in Scotland include: re-establishing priority species in the Highlands, and undertaking habitat restoration in Atlantic rainforests and on the Edinburgh shoreline.

We are the custodians of internationally important collections and maximise their value as conservation, research, education and heritage resources. Our major collections are:

  • Living Collection: one of the world’s richest collections of wild plant species with over 34,000 accessions representing 13,50 species from 157 countries across our four gardens. Included in our collection are species which are extinct in the wild, and those that are new to science. 28 Glasshouses in the Edinburgh garden recreate wet rainforests, arid lands, montane tropics and temperate habitats. Meanwhile Benmore garden has six hectares devoted to the plants of Chile, including a newly planted “forest” of 200 monkey puzzle trees. Logan is famed for an amazing collection of southern hemisphere plants and Dawyck is one of the world’s finest arboreta.
  • Herbarium: some 3,000,000 specimens of plants from every country on earth; representing almost two thirds of the world’s known plant species. These specimens provide a global working reference collection for the study of plant distribution, species identification and ecology and evolution.
  • Library: the finest botanical library in Scotland and one of the leading botanical libraries in the world, containing some 70,000 books, 150,000 periodicals and a rich archive and botanical art collection.

Our specialist training and public engagement links plants to individuals and communities in Scotland and around the world. Our education offer ranges from schools programmes, to a HND/BSc programme, and a MSc course in Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants. Our expanding online courses now reach students in over 50 countries.

In a normal year our gardens attract 1,000,000 visits per year and our extensive programme of events, courses and exhibitions are a major attraction, complementing our living and preserved collections and helping to delight and inform our visitors.

Our gardens offer a fantastic place to support communities. The Botanic Cottage and Community Garden welcome participants from across the community including: disadvantaged adults and families; people with autism, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and mental health issues; adults and teenagers with learning disabilities; ethnic minorities and refugees.

Edinburgh Biomes

The first phase of the Edinburgh Biomes Programme is due to start in 2021 and will protect RBGE’s unique and globally important plant collection to ensure that Scotland and the world increasingly benefits from the application of knowledge and learning generated from the National Botanical Collections. It will bring together RBGE’s research, horticulture and infrastructure facilities and significantly refurbish and rebuild the glasshouses and associated infrastructure. It will reduce our carbon footprint and provide much needed plant health research and biosecurity facilities. The project will greatly increase the quality and depth of the visitor experience and catalyse and engage communities across Scotland, deepening their understanding of the importance of natural heritage, and inspiring action in addressing climate change, and the biodiversity crisis.

The Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is, under the National Heritage (Scotland) Act 1985, statutorily responsible for the custody of RBGE’s National Collections and for the overall performance of RBGE’s performance.

Role of the Trustees

There is a statutory maximum of nine Trustees. Members have collective responsibility for overseeing the RBGE and pursuing its statutory remit. The Board is responsible for agreeing the organisation’s strategy, ensuring that the highest standards of governance are complied with; and to hold the Regius Keeper (and senior staff) to account for the management of the organisation and the delivery of agreed plans on time and within budget. It should take due account of advice given by the Regius Keeper who is not a member of the Board.

Skills, Knowledge and Experience

There are three distinct roles on the Board of Trustees and applicants should demonstrate evidence of at least one of the following:

  • leading and developing a successful visitor attraction;
  • biodiversity science – research, policy and funding;
  • education policy development and strategic delivery.

Applicants also need to demonstrate evidence of a number of other skills:

  • analysis and decision making;
  • constructive and supportive challenge;
  • commitment and empathy for mission and objectives of RBGE;
  • communication and influencing.

Time Commitment and Remuneration

Trustees of the Board devote up to around eight to ten days per year. Trustee roles are unremunerated, however, reasonable expenses incurred will be reimbursed. The appointments are non-pensionable.

Length of Term

The appointments are for four years and take effect from 1 May 2021 and 16 September 2021. Reappointment is not automatic and is subject to performance and the individual continuing to satisfy the requirements of the role.

Shortlist