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Trustees

This appointment is closed and is displayed for reference only. 

Reference:3890 

Remuneration:No remuneration 

Location:Edinburgh, City of 

Closing date:25 February 2021 at midnight 

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.


An application pack and full details on this and other public appointments can be found at www.appointed-for-scotland.org/.  If you experience any difficulties accessing the website, please contact 0300 244 1898 or email pa_applications_mailbox@gov.scot.  For further information about the RBGE and the roles, please contact the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Dominic Fry, at dfry@rbge.org.uk or on 07801 445378.  You can also find out more about the body at www.rbge.org.uk/.


How to Apply


Application will be by a tailored career history setting out evidence of the priority and one aspect of the essential criteria.  This will be supported by an application form that captures your personal details, declarations and equalities monitoring information.


Once completed, your evidence of the priority and essential criteria, and the completed application form, should be submitted by email to pa_applications_mailbox@gov.scot.


Applicants must make it clear in their evidence which of the three areas of expertise they consider is their strongest.


When submitting your tailored career history, you should also submit the application form which provides your personal details.  You also have the opportunity to complete the declaration section and the Equalities Monitoring Form.  The completed application form should be submitted with your evidence of the priority and essential criteria by email to pa_applications_mailbox@gov.scot.


The closing date for completed applications is 25 February 2021.


Accessibility to public appointments is a fundamental requirement and the public appointments process promotes, demonstrates and upholds equality of opportunity for all applicants.  The Scottish Government will always give consideration to disability-related reasonable adjustments that an applicant might request to enable them to demonstrate their merit and participate fully in the selection process.  If you require any of the application pack documentation in an alternative format, please contact Freephone 0300 244 1898 or public.appointments@gov.scot.


Scottish Ministers particularly welcome applications from people with protected characteristics that are under-represented on the Board of Trustees, such as women, disabled people, those from minority ethnic communities and people aged under 50.


Appointed on merit; committed to diversity and equality 

Application Information

If you experience any difficulties accessing the website, please call 0300 244 1898 or email public.appointments@gov.scot.

Additional Information

  1. FAQs
  2. Applicant Information Pack