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Thanks to your support, Kew is working both in the UK and in many countries around the world to help conserve biodiversity – do come along to this summer’s events to find out more, says Stephen Hopper
Kew’s celebrations of the International Year of Biodiversity will be in full flow this summer. We are joining with a wide range of other renowned organisations worldwide, putting on events, tours, displays and lectures to help our visitors appreciate exactly what biodiversity is and just why it’s so fundamentally important to conserve its richness.
After all, the arguments for conserving biodiversity are compelling – not only do we depend on healthy biological systems for our survival, but our economy and lifestyles are augmented by them in many ways. Plants are the foundation stone of all biodiversity, and we are all reliant on them, yet many of the world’s plant species may be in danger of extinction. Even in the UK there are plenty of species that need our help. We do have the tools to help restore biodiversity, however, and organisations like the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, continue to develop ways of achieving this in collaboration with a network of partners in this country and around the world.
Kew constantly works with such partners, including other botanic gardens, seed banks and scientific institutions, to halt the loss of plant diversity by sharing knowledge in our areas of expertise – plant science, collections management, conservation, horticulture and education. The goal is always the same: to transfer the knowledge and skills needed to enable the people and organisations we work with to respond to the botanical, horticultural and plant-conservation challenges of today. Kew works with 100 countries to this end and is enriched and strengthened by such partnerships. From exploring how the DNA barcoding of plants and fungi can aid their conservation, to completing detailed botanical surveys to help create reserves, and working with the University of Sussex on research into honeybee behaviour (see page 34), our work is both wide ranging and relevant to the issues affecting biodiversity today.
In recent years we have achieved some impressive and successful reintroductions of species, completed a huge number of conservation assessments, discovered astonishing new plant species and worked with local communities to help them conserve the plants that they need and value. We now look forward to a future focused around Kew’s Breathing Planet Programme, continuing to study and conserve the wonders of the plant kingdom for the benefit of all.
I do hope you can come and enjoy the events at Kew and Wakehurst this year and see for yourself why biodiversity should be celebrated and what you can do to help conserve it. If there was ever a time to get involved, it is now.
Find out more about Kew’s Breathing Planet Programme at www.kew.org/breathing-planet, and see page 16 for more on how Kew is working to conserve biodiversity.
Professor Stephen D Hopper Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
KEW Summer 2010 l 5