The Edinburgh Reporter
Delegates dig in
World leaders promote biodiversity at Royal Botanic Garden
DURING COP26, while the eyes of the world were on Glasgow, international delegations from Nepal, Malawi and the Ivory Coast were also addressing the impact of the biodiversity crisis and climate emergency at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).
Welcomed by Simon Milne, MBE, Regius Keeper and teams of scientists and horticulturists, the global leaders planted trees, symbolising the development and growth of these important global partnerships.
Returning from the World Leaders Summit in Glasgow, Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and the Minister for Forests and Environment Ramsahay Prasad Yadav, met with Simon Milne MBE, Regius Keeper and Dominic Fry, Chair of the Board of Trustees.
At the centre of the Himalaya, Nepal is classed as a Global Biodiversity Hotspot. Home to a third of all Himalayan species, its ecosystems are crucial to all life across Asia and sustain the everyday needs of Nepal’s largely rural population. However, the country is experiencing alarmingly rapid melting of glaciers and snow cover of the Himalayan mountains as part of the increasing frequency of extreme weather events.
Having worked in the region for more than 200 years, over the last two decades, RBGE has become a yet closer partner of the Nepal government and its key environmental agencies. The quest is to help Nepali partners build their own ability to undertake plant biodiversity research and to scientifically document the natural capital of their country. The Flora of Nepal is the first comprehensive record of the estimated 7,000 species of flowering plants and ferns found in Nepal.
The Garden also welcomed His Excellency, President Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi in a celebration of the long-standing friendship between the country and RBGE.
During their visit, the President and First Lady Mrs Monica Chakwera planted a Widdringtonia whytei or Mlanje cedar, a species of conifer found only in Malawi. Now critically endangered in the wild, the cedar was grown from seed collected in 2019 as part of RBGE’s International Conifer Conservation Programme.
Historic preserved specimens of the species Aframomum, originally from the Ivory Coast, helped to illustrate the work of the Herbarium when the Honourable Mr Alan Donwahi, Minister of Water and Forests, Republic of the Ivory Coast and Her Excellency, Madame Sara Amani, Ambassador of the Ivory Coast in the United Kingdom, visited RBGE.
On their first visit to the Garden, the delegation discussed possible projects and hopes for the creation of a new partnership between RBGE and the Ivory Coast.
At RBGE, scientists and horticulturists are building a global network of people to help conserve the planet’s natural capital and enable the sustainable use of plants. Visits by leaders during COP26 help to strengthen these crucial international collaborations.