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.