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Botanic Garden Celebrates GBP£5 Million Award

21 November 2006
The Gateway Visitor Centre 
 The Gateway centre will introduce visitors to the natural world

£5 million of funding has been announced by the Scottish Executive for The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's ground-breaking Gateway project. This brings the total funding raised to £14.7m of a target £15.7m for a new state-of-the-art visitors centre.

The Gateway will support greater links and partnerships between all the research organisations funded by the Scottish Executive. As well as offering the public new opportunities to meet scientists and horticulturists who conduct the research and conservation work it will allow live link-ups with partners working around the globe.

The new building itself is intended to be a shining example of green construction and sustainability and entry to the attraction will be free.

Live Internet Link-Ups 

Plans for the centre include an ambitious project to link people up using internet technology. Visitors to the popular Edinburgh attraction will be able to communicate with RBGE field workers online.

The aim is to allow the public a unique insight into environmental work being under-taken. Workers, wherever they are around the world, will be able to talk via screens with members of the public in Edinburgh, who can ask them about their work.

An RBGE spokesperson said "Whether we are talking about mosses in Scotland, Monkey Puzzles in New Caledonia or Berberis in China, the potential for the public to use the visitors' centre and learn about any of the projects we have in 40 countries round the globe is endless".

A Lasting Difference 

Deputy Environment and Rural Development Minister Rhona Brankin visited the Garden to meet representatives of partner organisations who will use the facility.

She said “The Gateway will give visitors an insight into to their environment, in areas like climate change, biodiversity and economic sustainability. It will promote the crucial link between science, the way we live our lives and the impact that can have on the planet.”

RBGE Regius Keeper Professor Stephen Blackmore, added: “There has never been a more important time to work in partnership. As has been highlighted recently, the scientific evidence is now overwhelming: an urgent, worldwide, reaction is needed to tackle the imminent threats to our environment.

"Yet, while climate change is of global concern, we cannot afford to ignore what is happening in our own backyard nor can we fail to advise citizens of the facts.

"Only by communicating the crucial messages can we empower people to make informed choices. By working together through the Gateway scientific and environmental organisations in Scotland can make a real and lasting difference.”

On Target for 2008 

The latest award brings Scottish Executive support for the project to £10 million. Together with an award of £3.2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the additional donations of £1.5 million already raised, this takes Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh significantly closer towards meeting its fund raising target of £15.7 million which, when reached, will allow construction to start.

There are plans to raise the remaining £1m in a public appeal which will launch in the new year. Assuming funding targets are met, the visitors' centre will be completed and open to the public by 2009.

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