Royal Botanical Gardens, (Ontario)

Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is headquartered in Burlington and also include lands in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It is one of the major tourist attractions between Niagara Falls and Toronto, as well as a significant local and regional horticultural, education, conservation and scientific resource. On July 31, 2006, Royal Botanical Gardens was selected as the "National Focal Point" for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) by Environment Canada. The GSPC is an international effort to stem the tide of plant extinction and ensure that biological diversity is available for sustainable human use, under the auspices of the UN treaty called the Convention on Biological Diversity. ["Royal Botanical Gardens to spearhead Canada's plant conservation efforts for UN", Canadian Press NewsWire. Toronto: Jul 31, 2006. [http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1090128741&Fmt=3&clientId=64067&RQT=309&VName=PQD Proquest URL] ]

The 980 hectares of nature sanctuaries owned by Royal Botanical Gardens is considered the "plant biodiversity hotspot" for Canada, including a very high proportion of the wild plants of Canada in one area, as well as being an "Important Bird Area" recognized by Bird Studies Canada. More than 1,100 species of plants grow within its boundaries including Few-Flowered Club Rush ("Trichophorum planifolium") which is found nowhere else in Canada, and the largest remaining population of Canada's most endangered tree Red Mulberry ("Morus rubra"). Both of these plants are listed as Endangered in Canada under the Species at Risk Act.

History

Initial sections of the RBG were built during the Great Depression in the 1930s as a make work project, under the impetus of Thomas McQuesten. It beautified derelict or undeveloped land in east Hamilton and west Burlington. For instance, a disused gravel pit was turned into the "Rock Gardens", by using stone relocate from the Niagara Escarpment. The original vision of the RBG was a mixture of protected natural forests and wetlands and horticultural displays.

The first Director of RBG, Dr. Norman Radforth, was appointed in 1947 and was a Professor of Botany at nearby McMaster University. In the early 1950s, Dr. Leslie Laking was appointed as Director, and served until the early 1980s. Under his guidance the institution developed into the major entity it is today. With approximately 1,100 ha (2,700 acres) of property, Royal Botanical Gardens is one of the largest such institutions in North America. In 2006 the Auxiliary of RBG published "Blood, Sweat and Soil: A History of RBG from 1931-1982" authored by Dr. Laking.

Financial

Funding for the institution was initially provided largely by the City of Hamilton and then in the 1940s by the Province of Ontario. By the early 1980s funding restrictions and the desire to become increasingly self-supported led to charging of an admission fee for the cultivated garden areas. The extensive system of nature trails, covering more than 20 km, has remained as free access. As of 2006, approximately 40% of RBG's annual budget comes from support from the Province of Ontario, the City of Hamilton and the Region of Halton. The remainder, 60%, is classed as 'self-generated revenue' and is raised annually from admissions, memberships, donations, and fees-for-service.

Especially important to the work of RBG are the efforts of the RBG Auxiliary, an organized volunteer group including more than 300 dedicated individuals. Annually the Auxiliary raises tens of thousands of dollars and donates tens of thousands of hours to RBG, including in such roles as tour guides, staffing the RBG Library and RBG Archives, and some gardening.

Attractions

Other attractions at RBG include the Arboretum, the outdoor education centre, a network of trails and outdoor floral arrangements. Some of the trails link to the Bruce Trail, and in fact a building in the RBG Arboretum, Raspberry House, is the headquarters of the Bruce Trail Association.

The natural lands or nature sanctuaries of Royal Botanical Gardens include some of the most significant wildlife and native plant areas in Canada. The largest area, which includes the wetland called Cootes Paradise or Dundas Marsh, is a major spawning area for native fish species in Lake Ontario, one of the best bird-watching areas in Canada, and is the subject of one of Canada's largest ecological rehabilitation efforts aimed at a wetland, 'Project Paradise.'

The Royal Botanical Gardens holds the second-largest garden show in Canada simply called The Ontario Garden Show. It comes second only to Canada Blooms which is held in Toronto.

Innovative educational programs are operated from both RBG's main building in Burlington and the Nature Interpretive Center, located in the Arboretum to the north of Cootes Paradise. Over 18,000 school children per year visit the organized school programs, and over 200 public education offerings include such diverse topics as botanical illustration, organic cooking and basic botany.

Royal Botanical Gardens is a member of the American Public Gardens Association, and is very active in local, regional, national and international efforts to conserve plant diversity and ensure its sustainable use. In 2006 RBG was named by Environment Canada as the National Focal Point for Canada for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC), an element of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity.


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References

ee also

* List of Canadian organizations with royal patronage
* Aldershot High School - ECO Studies program

External links

* [http://www.rbg.ca/ Royal Botanical Gardens official website]
* [http://www.brucetrail.org/ Bruce Trail Association]
* [http://www.biodiv.org/ Convention on Biological Diversity]
* [http://www.bgci.org/ Botanic Gardens Conservation International]
* [http://www.publicgardens.org/ American Public Gardens Association]


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