Japanese tsunami memorial tree planting ceremony at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 3 April 2012
27 March 2012
Following the earthquake and tsunami which struck north-east Japan on 11 March 2011, there was a huge outpouring of support for victims of the disaster from the UK Government and public. As an expression of Japan’s deep gratitude and appreciation for this support, a tree planting and seed presentation ceremony will be held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on 3 April 2012. The Japanese Ambassador, Keiichi Hayashi, will be met by Kew’s Director, Professor Stephen Hopper, to host the ceremony.
Kew has a long standing partnership with Japan, having worked together for over 100 years. The Japanese Landscape at Kew, which displays a number of native species and garden plants from the country, is incredibly popular with visitors.
Japanese children from the town of Yamada in Iwate Prefecture, an area that was badly affected by the disaster, have been chosen to present seeds to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. The seeds come from the Ai-Akamatsu tree (a hybrid of Japanese black and red pine), which were all destroyed by the earthquake last year, leaving only a single tree left standing in the city of Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate. This surviving tree has now become a national symbol of hope in Japan. Following this, two young Zelkova serrata trees which are emblematic of Tohoku, Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures (areas which also suffered considerable damage last year), will be planted in the Japanese Landscape, representing the wish for a quick recovery in the region.
As part of the ceremony, Tsubasa children’s choir, directed by Jason Kouchak, will sing Please Give Me Wings To Fly. UK International Search and Rescue teams, British volunteers who helped in Yamada, as well as children from Scotland and the ICBA (International Children Bunko Association) who exchanged letters with Japanese children in Yamada have all been invited to the event. After the ceremony Japanese children will be presenting visitors to Kew with small gifts and thank you messages.
Date: Tuesday 3 April 2012
- 10.25am Press to arrive at Lion Gate entrance, Kew Gardens. Lion Gate is the most southern gate on Kew Road, just after the London Welsh Rugby Football Club. Approximate post code for Lion Gate is TW9 2AS. (Please allow at least 10 minutes to make your way from Lion Gate to the Japanese Landscape.)
- 10:40 - 11:30am Tree planting ceremony and seed presentation at the Japanese Landscape
- 11.30am Ceremony ends
Interviewees: Ambassador Hayashi and Tony Kirkham, Head of the Arboretum at Kew, will both be available for interview on the day. Tony has experience travelling through Japan, collecting native specimens for Kew’s arboretum.
(Representatives from UK International Search and Rescue teams, volunteers who worked in Yamada following the disaster (Ms Lois Robinson and Mr Luke Dunn), the Manager of ICBA UK (Mrs Yoko Moshishima), and Ms Remi Nakagawa of Sumitomo Forestry Co. LTD who collected seeds from the miracle pine tree in Rikuzen-Takata will also available for interview.)
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Press enquiries: Rajveer Sihota, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0) 208 332 5684
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Embassy of Japan
Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the UK (JCCI)
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), Japan
UK International Search and Rescue teams (UK ISAR)
CARE International UK
Orikasa Primary School, Yamada Town, Iwate Prefecture, Japan
Seafield Primary School, Elgin, Scotland
International Children Bunko Association (ICBA)
Tsubasa Children’s Choir (UK)
Japan Society (UK)
Japanese Garden Society UK)
Tsukuba Research Institute, Sumitomo Forestry Co., LTD
During April visitors can also see the pink blossom of Prunus ‘Asano’ along Cherry Walk, near the Temperate House.
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 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 per cent by 2020, and its enormous potential for future conservation can only be fulfilled with the support of the public and other funders.
Kew receives funding from the UK Government through Defra for approximately half of its income and is also reliant on support from other sources. Without the voluntary monies raised through membership, donations and grants, Kew would have to significantly scale back activities at a time when, as environmental challenges become ever more acute, its resources and expertise are needed in the world more than ever. Kew needs to raise significant funds both in the UK and overseas. Members of the public can support the work of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership by getting involved with the ‘Adopt a Seed, Save a Species' campaign. For £25 an individual can adopt a seed or for £1000 anyone can save an entire species. www.kew.org/adoptaseed
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