Globally important conservation and science is under threat as a result of a steep reduction in current and future funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Prospect has warned.
Broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough has now called on the government to support Kew Gardens and the crucial role it plays in world conservation and the study of plants.
“Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after out botanical heritage and our botanical future. The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically,” he told local paper the Richmond Guardian after the cuts were announced.
“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,” he said, adding that the Seed Bank is of world importance and should be supported by the government like a proper institution or university.
An existing £5m deficit will lead to the loss of over 120 posts and further cuts of at least £1.5m are on the cards before the end of 2016. Most of the endangered jobs are in the areas of science and public engagement.
Prospect negotiator Julie Flanagan said: “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 from 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.
- Sign the petition and watch a video outlining the key role played by Kew in protecting the environment.
- UK supporters are also urged to write to their MPs asking them to add their support to an early day motion calling on the government to allow a full public debate on the implications of such cuts and to encourage full and proper consultation with staff, the public and Kew volunteers before any final decisions are made.