Growing the Botanics

The ‘Growing the Botanics’ project for academic year 2022-2023 will research the Botanic Garden of St Andrews. While originally operated by the University (and still owned by the University), it is now both a limited company and a charity managed by the St Andrews Botanic Garden Trust with an annual turnover of more than £0.5m. It has a significant and diverse botanic collection with thousands of plant species across 18 acres of land. It offers a range of educational activities to all age groups.

Botanic gardens generate social value with a wide range of public benefits related to their contribution to botanical research, lifelong education, biodiversity conservation and public recreation. Inevitably, generating these environmental benefits requires labour intensive garden maintenance and this adds to the financial pressures. As a public good, the St Andrews Botanic Garden is primarily funded by a subsidy from Fife Council, other grants and tourist income.

The aims of the VIP are to research the following questions:

  • To what extent do the benefits of the St Andrews Botanic Garden justify its large public subsidy (from Fife Council)
  • What are the implications for the sustainability of the Garden of the ongoing significant changes in its environmental and biodiversity strategy?
  • What lessons for St Andrews can be learned from the activities and business models of botanic gardens in other locations?

Project supervisor

Ian Smith
[email protected]