The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh unveils a year-long programme of events highlighting the global dangers of climate crisis and biodiversity loss
In celebration of its historic 350th birthday, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has announced details of a year-long programme of activities and events designed to draw attention to the global threat that climate change poses to ecosystems and plant diversity. With one in five species now facing extinction due to the climate crisis, the Botanics aims to both raise awareness of this critical juncture in the earth's history, as well as platform the innovative and vital work that the garden is involved with around the world.
Since the Botanics opened its doors in 1670, the garden has become a global leader in botanical science, working in partnership with over 35 countries on horticultural projects and research, and discovering and recording an average of one plant new to science every week.
Highlights from the programme include the official opening of the Botanics's new Garden of Tranquility in June, designed to provide a safe and peaceful sensory space for those living with dementia and their carers. Visitors will also be invited to take part in a colourful world festival at the Big Botanics Birthday party on Sun 14 Jun, which will feature a myriad of music, dance and food from across the globe.
Acclaimed musician Karine Polwart to take part in a year-long artistic residency at the Botanics / credit: Sandy Butler
Continuing on the garden's work abroad, scientists and researchers from the Botanics will undertake a four-week research expedition to the highlands of Papua New Guinea, in collaboration with the Papua New Guinea Forest Research Institute and the National Museum of Scotland. This ground-breaking expedition aims to monitor the region's biodiversity using cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology, and record new species of plant and insect life. The garden will also host a panel of leading scientists for a Halting Plant Extinction Debate on Thu 26 Nov, which will tackle issues and solutions surrounding the biodiversity crisis from a botanical perspective.
Artistic celebrations of nature's gifts include a performance by acclaimed Edinburgh-based Baroque ensemble Dunedin Consort, which will be performing a repertoire of music in praise of our natural world, including works such as Telemann's Water Music and Vivaldi's classic Four Seasons, at a concert at the Queen's Hall on Sat 10 Oct. The summer months will also see three artists – Christine Borland, Karine Polwart and Pippa Murphy – begin a year-long residency at Inverleith House, producing works inspired by the Botanics's rich archives and collections.
Other events taking place at the Botanics as part of its 350th anniversary include an exhibition about sustainable and environmentally responsible plastics; talks on lichen diversity in Scotland's temperate rainforest; Siân Bowen's exhibition of drawings, video art and models on the vulnerability of plant life, which marks the culmination of her four-year collaboration with the Botanics; and much more.
Regarding this historic milestone in Botanics's history, Regius Keeper Simon Milne MBE says, 'We live in unprecedented times as we face the twin and related challenges of the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis. All known life depends on plants, yet one in five species is threatened with extinction. The breadth, depth and worldwide reach of the Botanics places it, and Scotland, at the forefront of efforts to further understand and conserve plants and fungi.
'The Botanics is a treasured national and international institution thanks to the inspired work of so many people over the centuries. I am delighted to invite everyone to help us celebrate this anniversary.'
Just one mile from the city centre, this idyllic oasis of greenery covers over 70 acres and features horticultural specimens from around the world. Among these, the Scottish Heath Garden and the Rock Garden are fantastic examples of conservation and…