Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 29, 2006

U of G, Royal Botanical Gardens Sign Memo of Understanding

A new relationship between the University of Guelph and Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) means new research opportunities and an enhanced exchange of information between the two. A memorandum of understanding establishing a research partnership was signed today in Hamilton by U of G president Alastair Summerlee and Mark Runciman, acting executive director of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

“The University and RBG both have a wealth of knowledge in the fields of horticulture and biodiversity and offer programming and education that is complementary,” said Summerlee. “This agreement will allow us to explore our vision for a collaborative partnership that will make optimal use of the strengths of each institution.”

Issues to be explored under the partnership include the possibility of collaborative research and the promotion of the importance of horticulture and plants in fostering healthy urban environments, protection and rehabilitation of natural areas, academic opportunities for students and developing new sites for plant trials and testing.

"RBG already enjoys strong contacts with many Guelph faculty and there’s a lot of interest here in productive research partnerships,” said Runciman. “This agreement will encourage us to work together at all levels on new projects that will benefit the people of Ontario and will help us to preserve and celebrate our cultural and natural heritage." He notes that 11 RGB staff members, many of its volunteers and its director emeritus, Leslie Laking, are all Guelph alumni.

Over the past five decades, RBG has become a centre of excellence in both horticulture and management of natural areas. Its 2,300 acres of nature sanctuaries contain many important habitats and one of the most significant and best-studied regional floras in Ontario. A herbarium houses some 80,000 specimens of wild plants and horticultural varieties and supports the institution’s research activities and education programs. The five major garden areas covering more than 300 acres include domestic and international collections of cultivated plants. The RBG’s library and archives have provided research support to staff and visiting researchers and contain many rare and precious documents, including historical collections of seed trade catalogues, information related to the gardening and horticulture industry and the papers of several renowned horticulturists and botanists.

U of G is internationally recognized for its teaching and research in biodiversity and is home to the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, a unit that brings together many biological collections and research activities. Guelph is involved in research in floristics, molecular taxonomy and invasive species and boasts the Ontario Agricultural College Herbarium, a facility that houses more than 120,000 specimens. The University’s library and 165-hectare Arboretum also promote and support history, education and exploration of knowledge related to biodiversity and horticulture.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56982.

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