Scientific, horticultural and educational links are set to be strengthened between the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and Jardin Botanico de Bogotá, Colombia, after the two scientific research organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Luisz Olmedo Martínez and Suzanne Harris sign in Bogotá.

The move makes formal the already strong relationship between researchers working on RBGE’s Colombian Project and their counterparts at Bogotá Botanic Garden. It’s aim is to strengthen collaboration in science, horticulture and education, with staff from both sides visiting and supporting each other in their research and conservation work.

“RBGE is conducting a research programme in Colombia, which is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth”, explained Dr James Richardson. “Bogotá Botanic Garden is responsible for the greening and maintenance of public spaces in Colombia’s capital, which is home to eight million people. The surroundings of Bogotá cover an altitudinal range from 2000 to 4000 metres and may include up to 3000 species. RBGE hopes to collaborate on projects that help document that flora and improve communication of the importance of plants in and around the city in providing food and numerous ecosystem services. By signing this memorandum we can now expect to collaborate on projects to enhance the educational and scientific research capacities in both organisations. I will be travelling to Bogotá to step up our activities there”.

The technicalities of the two-way signing were achieved when Suzanne Harris, of the RBGE Learning Team, travelled to Bogotá to conduct a Training Needs Assessment. Having witnessed the signing of MOU by Luisz Olmedo Martínez, the Director of the Botanic Garden in Bogotá, on Wednesday October 10, Suzanne safely returned with the agreement, to be signed by RBGE Regius Keeper, Professor Stephen Blackmore on October 18.

Professor Steve Blackmore (front centre) signs in Edinburgh with Colombian PhD students Javier Luna Castro, Eugenio Valderrama and Maria Camila Gomez together with Toby Pennington (Head of Tropical Diversity), James Richardson (Head of RBGE’s Colombia Program) and Suzanne Harris (RBGE Education).

Professor Blackmore commented: “The MOU is a great example of how knowledge and expertise from RBGE are in demand in biodiversity rich countries. Experience shows that this new partnership will be rewarding to both ourselves and our friends in Colombia”.