• Petitioning Danny Alexander MP

This petition will be delivered to:

Chief secretary to the UK Treasury
Danny Alexander MP
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Science
Lord de Mauley
MP for Richmond Park
Zac Goldsmith MP
Cabinet Office and MP for Horsham
Rt Hon Francis Maude MP
MP for Mid-Sussex
Rt Hon Nicholas Soames MP
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Rt Hon Dr Vincent Cable MP
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Elizabeth Truss MP
Rt Hon Mr Owen Paterson MP

Urgently reverse existing, proposed, and further cuts to RBG Kew’s annual operating grant in aid

    1. Julie Flanagan
    2. Petition by

      Julie Flanagan

      London, United Kingdom

Globally important conservation and science under threat at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew due to government cuts - £5M deficit will lead to loss of over 120 posts

The UK Government need to urgently reverse the existing cuts to Kew’s annual operating grant in aid funding, and to cancel the proposed and any further future cuts.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with sites at Kew Gardens, London and Wakehurst Place, Sussex is a world-leader in conservation and botanical science, with over 250 years of historical excellence in these fields.

Never before has Kew faced such a significant threat to its future. It now needs your help to ensure its globally-important plant and fungal collections can continue to be used to support plant and fungal science and conservation around the world.

In 1983, 90 per cent of Kew’s funding came from the UK Government as grant in aid. The current amount has dropped to below 40 per cent as of this year. Funding was reduced by £0.9M in 2009-10, £1M in 2010-11, and by an extra £0.5M year-on-year thereafter (see here). 

Kew has now been told to expect further cuts of at least another £1.5M before the end of 2016.

Under the 1983 National Heritage Act, the UK Government committed to ensure that Kew is adequately resourced to fulfil its statutory obligations, which include: research; providing advice and education; plant-related services including quarantine; caring for world-renowned scientific collections, as national reference collections available for study; and as a resource for the public to gain knowledge and enjoy. The UK Government is no longer fulfilling its role to allow Kew to meet these obligations.

Kew has been dramatically increasing income from non-government funding streams through the work of their partner charity Kew Foundation, and via commercially-generated income, consultancy work, and research funding. Although there are plans to extend these efforts, they are no longer able to keep up with the rate of cuts in government funding and many areas of Kew’s work are not easily resourced externally.

Due to the cuts, Kew has announced that with a £5M deficit for this year, over 120 posts will be axed. The majority of posts will be lost in the areas of science and public engagement (report here.) In specialist careers measured in decades of experience, Kew will lose dedicated, expert staff, and whole areas of work are likely to be halted.

As Sir David Attenborough was recently quoted as saying:

"Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after our botanical heritage and our botanical future. The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically. People who think it is just a place to go to look at pretty flowers and flower beds are mistaking the importance of Kew Gardens. The Seed Bank is of world importance and it should be supported by the Government like a proper institution or university and the continuing idea that Kew Gardens is merely a playground and that you just put up the prices to look after it is a misguided assessment of the value of Kew. The Government and the scientific departments should recognise that and support it properly." 

Please show your support for Kew, and their continuing work for future generations, by signing this petition, and please encourage others to do the same.

Recent signatures


    1. Speak Up for Kew - Public Meeting Arranged on 22 October 2014

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      A public meeting will be held on 22nd October 2014, 7pm-8.45pm in the Avenue Halls, The Avenue, Kew TW9 2AJ.

      Speakers will include Zac Goldsmith MP and John McDonnell MP, with further speakers to be confirmed.

      Please come along and share details with your colleagues, friends and family. You will hear about the impact of budget and staffing cuts on the service that Kew provides.

      Despite the temporary reversal of this year's cuts by Nick Clegg, Kew remains under threat. Unless we can persuade the government to assure an adequate operating budget, Kew will axe the posts of dedicated expert staff, including those undertaking essential botanical work unique in the UK.

      Support Kew by attending the meeting and by:

      * Sharing the petition;
      * Writing to your MP to encourage them to reverse and prevent further cuts to Kew's funding and ask them to sign Early Day Motion 117: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/117
      * Read http://kewcuts.org for more information
      * Twitter: @KewCuts
      * Facebook: Stop Kew Cuts

    2. Petition Update

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      Having returned from a much needed break, the Kew Campaign received some good news in the form of Nick Clegg’s announcement that Kew’s operating funding will be maintained at the same level as it was for 2013/14.
      Although this is welcome news, the reality remains that Kew’s operating funding levels have been reduced by about 20% since 2009/10. The Deputy PM's one-off funding handout will help, but will not resolve the full £5m gap in Kew’s budget for 2014/15, nor will it protect Kew from further planned cuts. This latest development is also a further example of the volatility of Kew’s Government funding over recent years. Kew really does need long term certainty about its funding to enable planning and management of its limited resources efficiently and effectively.
      The bad news is that Kew will be continuing with its plan to cut jobs and to try desperately to further increase income from commercial activity etc. A number of job losses have already been announced in various support roles meaning that Kew will be less able to share its information as a result. Kew is moving some roles to Kew Enterprises, a separate employer who do not even pay many of their staff the Living Wage. The day after Nick Clegg's surprise “Hokey-Cokey funding“ announcement, Kew’s 200 permanent Science staff learned that 42 posts (22%) are to go directly as a result of the cuts and uncertainty of future funding. Kew also proposes introducing 30 three-year fixed term Career Development Research Fellowships. This will force staff to compete with Universities for already limited academic research funding grants or face redundancy if unsuccessful. Although this will benefit some staff careers, it adds to the permanent staff posts to be lost within 3 years, 37% of the current staff.
      Staff and Trade Unions do have the opportunity to influence the proposals being released for consultation, however we believe that the concept of moving Kew to more and more commercial activity, and placing this unique organisation into competition for funding with academic institutions for instance is fundamentally flawed.
      To date Kew's Management team has been unable to show how the proposed restructure of Kew will be of benefit, either to the organisation itself, its employees, its supporters or the nation beyond shaving a tiny proportion off public spending. In the meantime Kew continues to lose experienced and valuable staff with decades of experience at all levels in the organisation and, in doing so, harm Kew's capacity to support global conservation, help the world's rural poor, tackle issues of food security and biosecurity and deal with the impacts of habitat loss and environmental change all over the world.
      We urge Kew to consider the serious implications of the radical changes being proposed, and the artificially short time scale to deliver them, which we believe may have serious detrimental consequences for Kew’s future and continue to argue that the necessary Government funding is provided to ensure this unique centre of excellence is protected.
      We also ask our supporters to continue to put pressure on Government and Kew Management to immediately halt the damaging shrinking of Kew and ensure that Kew’s focus going forward does not become primarily aligned to commercial interests.
      The UK political parties will soon be holding their annual conferences. We ask you to support our challenge to them all to show their commitment to pay more than lip service to the nation's conservation and science capability represented no better than by Kew.

      Twitter: @KewCuts
      Facebook: Stop Kew Cuts


      Staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew welcomed news of the temporary reprieve in funding cuts, after a widespread campaign, including the petition, has won the support of more than 100,000 people. On 3 September, Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg told the State of Nature Conference that he has secured £1.5m of government funding for Kew Gardens and its site in West Sussex until April 2015.

    3. Petition Update

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      The Kew Gardens campaign team continue to be inspired by the fantastic support we are receiving.

      • Our latest Early Day Motion (EDM 117) has received 49 signatures from cross Party MPs and is in the top 15%. The EDM continues to be valid and it is essential that we keep the pressure on for MPs to sign up (proposed text for MPs letter below).
      • Dame Jane Goodall, the world renowned founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, who worked closely with Kew scientists whilst researching her book “Seeds of Hope”, recently denounced the Kew cuts as “unbelievably stupid” in a Guardian interview:


      • The recent Parliamentary Rally was attended by a number of MPs and external supporters. Speakers included Zac Goldsmith MP and John McDonnell MP. Concern was also expressed for staff working in Kew Enterprise, who despite our representations, are not paid the living wage. It is not reasonable for staff to be poorly paid, in order that greater profits can be returned to Kew to compensate for funding cuts.

      Unfortunately, we didn’t receive a response to our letter to Owen Paterson MP prior to the recent Government reshuffle. A further letter has been sent to the new Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP requesting an urgent meeting to enable us to put our concerns to her directly. The letter refers to the cuts in Kew’s grant-in-aid; the loss of staff with valuable experience (which is becoming increasingly apparent as the restructuring takes effect); the value of Kew’s work with other Government departments through its work on climate change, plant forensics and health for example; and the impact of cuts on Kew’s ability to generate its own revenue. It is essential that additional funding is provided to Kew whilst a review of funding arrangements takes place.
      Looking forward the Campaign Team will be making arrangements for a local rally to be held in Kew in the Autumn, with details posted nearer the time.
      Please continue to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to sign the petition.

      To support our campaign for the living wage for Kew staff, email Richard Deverell asking that Kew ensure the living wage is paid to staff from this Autumn, at info@kew.org

      Twitter: @kewcuts
      Facebook: Stop Kew Cuts

      Jane Goodall and David Attenborough lead fight to save Kew Gardens

      It has achieved fame for being the world's greatest centre for botanical research, a place where the planet's rarest plant and tree species are preserved and studied. But now Kew Gardens, established more than 200 years ago, is set to become the focus of an international battle following an intervention by renowned biologist Jane Goodall, who has denounced a recently inflicted budget cut as "unbelievably stupid".

    4. The campaign continues!

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      Our petition has reached over 100,000 signatures and the campaign continues apace. There has been lots of activity since we handed the petition into 10 Downing Street.

      We have written to Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, asking for a meeting to raise our concerns about the impact of funding cuts to Kew Gardens/Wakehurst Place. We are asking for his support in seeking additional interim funding for Kew, and for a review of Kew’s funding arrangements to ensure that long term clarity and security for this priceless national institution is provided.

      A further Early Day Motion has been tabled (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/117) and a House of Commons rally will be held on 8 July, where Zac Goldsmith MP, John McDonnell MP and Caroline Lucas MP will be speaking in support of our campaign. Once again we ask our UK supporters to write to their MPs, asking them to sign the EDM and attend our rally.

      Suggested text for letters to MPs:
      "I am writing to express my continuing concern about and opposition to the current and proposed further cuts to public funding to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. I have supported the e-petition at http://bit.ly/save_kew and ask that you add your support to Early Day Motion 117 (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/117). I also ask that you attend the Parliamentary rally in the House of Commons, Room 20 at 3.30pm on 8 July and that you continue to do what you can to help ensure Kew's globally-important plant and fungal collections can continue to be used to support plant and fungal science and conservation around the world."

      You can find your MP on the Parliament web site at http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ - details will include both postal and email details.

      Thanks again for your continued support, it is greatly appreciated. We are determined to keep the pressure on, and with the help of our supporters we will achieve our goal.

      Please continue to encourage your friends, families and contacts to sign and share the petition!

      Early day motion 117 - ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS KEW

      That this House is concerned that the successive cuts to the Grant In Aid for the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew since 2010 puts over 120 jobs at risk and threatens...

    5. Reached 100,000 signatures
    6. Campaigners hand petition to 10 Downing Street!

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      Kew campaigners have successfully handed the petition in to 10 Downing Street. Thank you all for your amazing support. The campaign continues. Please help us get to 100,000 signatures, so close!


    7. Petition heads to 10 Downing Street on Monday 9th June!

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you all for supporting us!

      Zac Goldsmith and Kew Union reps are going to deliver the petition to 10 Downing Street on Monday! Prospect #KewCuts press release is here: http://www.prospect.org.uk/news/id/2014/June/6/Kew-campaigners-head-Downing-Street-00781

      We now need fewer than 3,000 signatures to go over the 100,000 mark! Please encourage partners, parents, family members, friends, colleagues to make their voices heard - asap.

      The campaign and petition will be continuing after tomorrow - plans are afoot to keep the pressure on, and we will keep supporters updated!

      Facebook: Stop Kew Cuts

    8. Kew Cuts Petition Update (25th May 2014): Help us reach 100k signatures!

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you everyone for the amazing support. The petition has caused quite a stir - your support is definitely helping to make a difference, but we need to keep the pressure up and hit over 100k signatures!

      We now have a Twitter account @KewCuts and Facebook page ‘Stop Kew Cuts’ - please follow/like/share to keep informed about updates to the campaign.

      We have had a lot of direct interest from MPs, and fantastic cross-party support at the recent Parliamentary drop-in session. The first EDM received excellent backing and in the new Parliamentary session we are planning to lodge further EDMs for MPs to sign. MPs have been writing letters to Defra and other Ministers in support of Kew, and they told us that letters from their constituents really make them sit up and notice issues like this - please do let them know of your concerns.

      Please, please continue to encourage all family, friends and colleagues to sign the petition and prove how much Kew’s unique work is valued by the public.

    9. Reached 75,000 signatures
    10. UPDATE (16th April 2014), part 2: Amazing response!

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      For London Borough of Richmond Residents: Zac Goldsmith is holding a coffee morning to discuss local and national issues that matter to local residents on Friday 25th April, 9.15 am at Cafe al Fresco, 459A Upper Richmond Road West, SW14 7PR. Please do go along and raise your concerns with him! Invitation here: http://pic.twitter.com/6lBant57uh, no need to book.

      Suggested text for letters to MPs:
      "I am writing to express my deep concern about and opposition to the current and proposed further cuts to public funding to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. I have supported the e-petition at http://bit.ly/save_kew and now ask that you add your support to Early Day Motion 1282 (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/1282). Please also attend the Parliamentary drop-in at 10:30am on 14 May (Room W1) and do what you can to help ensure Kew's globally-important plant and fungal collections can continue to be used to support plant and fungal science and conservation around the world."

      Twitter / RPNKTories: JOIN @North_Richmond ...

      JOIN @North_Richmond @ZacGoldsmith @brianmarcel and local Cllrs to discuss any issues affecting North Richmond. pic.twitter.com/6lBant57uh

    11. UPDATE (16th April 2014), part 1: Amazing response!

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      Enormous thanks for all the amazing support that has been given to this campaign.

      An update on recent activity:

      For non-UK supporters:
      Please type your country name into the search box on https://www.gov.uk/government/world and follow the links to find appropriate contact details, also try: www.britishcouncil.org/ and www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/uk-science-and-innovation-network. Please express your concern, giving examples of how the cuts at Kew could have a damaging effect on your local research, education and conservation projects.

      For UK residents/citizens:
      A UK Parliamentary Early Day Motion has been tabled. You can write to your MP and request that they add their support to the motion – you can see who has signed here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/1282. You can find your MP on the Parliament web site at http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ - details will include both postal and email details. Some suggested text for letters in part 2...

    12. Reached 20,000 signatures
    13. UPDATE (11th April 2014), part 3:

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      A fantastic start has been made. Truly impressive. Please help this petition to have much more chance of making a difference and show your support by signing it, sharing it further, and encouraging as many like-minded people to do the same.

      Thank you, again,


    14. UPDATE (11th April 2014), part 2:

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      Many of the petitions on Change.org show that public opinion can result in real change. The more signatures, the faster they come in, the bigger the statement. As a result, and due to the overwhelming support shown already, the 'target' number of signatures has been increased.

      It is important to make clear: Kew is, and will remain, extremely productive. It does an enormous amount of amazing work on what is ultimately a relatively small amount of funding. Kew's Government-funding body, DEFRA, continues to be highly supportive, but DEFRA has a huge remit and only limited funding to allocate to each organisation they support. This is a bigger issue than funding direct from Kew's supporting body, it is about how much the UK Government overall values Kew's continued work and global reach which benefit many other areas of UK Government and international concern than just DEFRA.

    15. UPDATE (11th April 2014), part 1:

      Julie Flanagan
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you to all those who have signed this petition - it is absolutely wonderful that so many people have publicly supported Kew. When it was set up, I had no idea how many or how quickly people would sign and what was a realistic target. Within 48hours over 5,000 amazing people from all over the world signed and many left personal messages of support in the comments. We are now nearly at 10,000 signature, within just a couple of days.

      Some have asked on social media, what happens when the petition hits 10,000 signatures? Unfortunately, hitting this target is unlikely to trigger a magic pot of money from the UK Treasury. But it WILL have already made a significant statement to all the policymakers out there that Kew is worth fighting for, and that it has a formidable international reputation and an army of supporters who are prepared to shout about it.

    16. Reached 6,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • 12 minutes ago

      I am a Landscape Arichitect and Horticulturist and I teach children in Schools about the environmental, sustainability & biodiversity. There is no other place like Kew Gardens, it carries out vital scientific work and should be funded properly. The expertise at Kew Gardens, like the species it looks after, once lost cannot be replaced.

      • about 1 hour ago

      All science is important; FAR more so than arts and foreign aid

    • Marcos Santos-Silva BRASILIA, BRAZIL
      • about 1 hour ago

      Kew Gardens is a World Patrimony. It shall be preserved and its activities sponsored. Our world needs more gardens and way less weapons.

    • Pauline Markovits BRISTOL, UNITED KINGDOM
      • about 3 hours ago

      Kew does a fantastic job of conservation and education the public

      • about 3 hours ago

      I have visited Botanical Gardens all over the world and RBG Kew's Global contribution and expertise is of paramount importance to the safeguard of certain species of plant, to underfund this organisation would be not using the gift of the human race to preserve our world, you cannot leave something as vital as this to luck


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