UK Government

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs: Independent review of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew published

Press Release   •   Feb 11, 2010 10:26 GMT

28/02 An independent performance review of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has praised its impressive achievements and set out recommendations to ensure the major plant science research facility and popular visitor attraction maintains and improves on its success in years to come.

The review, carried out on behalf of Defra, concluded that the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Kew has met all of its statutory obligations since the last performance review in 2001, such as preservation and care for a wide variety of plant collections, undertaking  research into the science of plants and ensuring the public have access to the collections.

The review makes a number of recommendations, for both Kew and Defra to ensure a sustainable future for RBG Kew. The recommendations are aimed at maintaining Kew’s world class standard in scientific research, further improving the quality, effectiveness and value for money of Kew’s services and sustaining it as a major, iconic visitor attraction and a World Heritage Site. The report also recommends that Defra remains the lead sponsoring Department for Kew with support through its Grant-in-Aid funding.

Natural and Marine Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said:

“The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew plays a crucial role in conserving the diversity of plant life on the planet and in providing first rate scientific research into plant life and the impacts of climate change. Kew’s wide range of living and preserved plant exhibits also makes it a hugely popular tourist attraction that brings joy to countless visitors.

“I welcome this review and Defra will consider its recommendations in great detail. Our consideration of this report will help us maintain the high standards at Kew and ensure the best means to provide adequate financial support to continue its success in the years to come.”

Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Professor Stephen Hopper, said:

“We welcome this review’s findings that Kew is delivering excellence both as an internationally-renowned plant science and conservation organisation and as a leading visitor attraction.  Kew’s collections, knowledge, expertise and international partnerships mean we have much to contribute in dealing with the environmental challenges of our times.  We welcome the report’s recommendations, which are designed to enable us to continue to deliver our mission and our statutory duties now and in years to come.  We will now consider these recommendations in detail.”

Defra and Kew will now examine the report’s recommendations in full and separate, formal responses will be issued later this year.

Notes to editors

  • The review was announced on 16 July 2009 and led by Sir Neil Chalmers, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford and former Director of the Natural History Museum.
  • A copy of the Independent Review of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew can be downloaded at www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/about/partners/kew/index.htm
  • Non Departmental Public Bodies are subject to regular Government Reviews. RBG Kew’s last formal review was held in 2001.
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world.  Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped, 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst Place is also home to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species). The aim is to conserve 25% by 2020 and funds are being actively sought in order to continue to develop this vital work. For further information please visit www.kew.org.
  • For more information about the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, contact Anna Quenby, Head of Public Relations, on +44 (0)20 8332 5607; pr@kew.org or out of hours telephone +44 (0)8332 5000.
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