Rt Hon Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Fisheries, opens new Kew Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit
09 September 2011
What: Tour Kew’s new Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit
When: 14 September 2011
9.45am arrivals – please use Brentford Gate
10am official welcome, followed by tours
10.40am coffee and tea in the Nash Conservatory
Where: Entry to the Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit will be through Brentford Gate. Parking is available in the Ferry Lane car park
RSVP to email@example.com, 0208 332 5607
For images of the Quarantine House please click here
Today (14 September 2011), the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew opens its new, purpose-built plant quarantine facility. Funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit is critical to Kew’s international conservation and scientific programmes. As a world-leading conservation organisation, Kew takes its quarantine responsibilities extremely seriously.
This new facility means that Kew can keep its precious collection of rare and interesting plants safe from pests and diseases and work with Defra to protect the UK natural environment. It is estimated that invasive species cost the UK economy £1.7 billion a year (Williams et al, 2010).
Initially the Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit will be used for plants entering and leaving Kew Gardens but in time a quarantine service will be provided to a wide range of organisations.
The facility was designed and built by Unigro, a leading provider of controlled environments to universities and other research institutes, after extensive consultation with Kew staff and other experts. It provides start of the art facilities in a sustainable building.
The building is located ‘behind-the-scenes’, close to the Brentford Gate area of the Gardens. The design of the building has been developed with biosecurity and containment as the top priorities. These were also the primary influences in the creation of the standard procedures developed to guide the management, operation and maintenance of the new building, and to secure a Plant Health License.
Containment features include:
- Separate work areas to manage the risk of contamination
- Individual growing areas, each with precise controllable climates for temperature, relative humidity and light levels
- Management of plant material from low to high risk to ensure containment
- Capacity to fumigate the building in isolated sections in the case of a serious pest or disease outbreak
- No direct drainage to the outside – a systems of sumps and gulleys with secondary drainage containment that can be emptied using a wet vacuum in order that liquid waste be sterilised
- Design, finishes and accessibility to allow cleaning, to ensure good hygiene
- Filtered air supply to ensure clean air flowing in and out of the building
- Containment glasshouse
o Sealed (no vents or openings)
o Operating at negative air pressure so that if there is a breach of containment (for example broken glass) any contaminated material doesn’t escape, but the air would be drawn in from outside
o External shade blinds to avoid contamination issues, which are likely to arise if the blinds were inside the glasshouse compartments and if there was an outbreak of a pest or disease
o Cold “airlock” separating the high containment area from the rest of the building to reduce transfer of insects
Sustainability features include:
- Double glazing with optitherm eco-glass for maximum insulation and security in the Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit
- High levels of insulation in the main header house
- External shade blinds – minimising the heating effect of the sun (to provide secondary cooling and reduce high light levels, mounted externally to eliminate the opportunity of contamination)
- Minimising water use and waste generated, and safe management of waste
- Harvesting rain water from the building, cordon sanitaire and neighbouring building, which replaces mains water in the reverse osmosis system
- Collecting heat and coolth using 2 large sealed water stores to provide background heating and cooling
- Smart building controls which are programmed to maximise energy efficiency and control independent operational conditions within the facility
- Combined heat and power plant – providing lower cost electrical energy using gas and providing “free “ heat which can be used in the neighbouring Lower Nursery, maximising fuel efficiency
Professor Stephen Hopper, Director (CEO and Chief Scientist), Kew says, “We are grateful to Defra for providing the funding for this project. Our changing environment and the increase in global trade means that, more than ever, we are vulnerable to the conservation and economic threats posed by new pests and diseases. As a result, contemporary quarantine facilities have many and varied demands on them and investing in quarantine at this time is vitally important. Kew’s new quarantine facility demonstrates best practice in this area.”
Keith Hamp, Commercial Director at Unigro says, “We are very proud to be part of this unique project, which has provided Kew Gardens with state-of-the-art technology, making this facility unique not just across the UK, but the whole of Europe. The new Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit provides highly contained facilities that function in a sustainable way, designed to protect the environment within and without. We are delighted to be part of the conservation of our planet’s biodiversity, and look forward to continuing to work with the team at Kew as it begins to utilise the new facility.”
Horticulturists at Kew Gardens have capitalised on the building of the Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit to use the land around the new building to develop a research project looking at the effect of seed mix composition on the maintenance of native species richness in acid grassland. The results will feed into the development of Kew’s Restoration Ecology programme.
The new Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit replaces Kew’s existing Quarantine House, which was built in 1979.
For more information contact the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew press office on +44 (0)208 332 5607 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For enquiries about Unigro please contact Sarah Whelband on 01732 779087 or email@example.com
Notes to editors:
The Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit is vital for Kew to fulfil its responsibilities under the Heritage Act 1983 to care for its collection of plants, enhancing and developing them and keeping them secure and available for study, and to achieve the standard necessary for a Plant Health Licence.
A Plant Health License, jointly issued by FERA and the Forestry Commission, sets out the terms and conditions under which Kew can import material from outside the EU that does not already have a phytosanitary certification (usually wild-collected plants). It also sets out strict operating procedures for quarantine facilities, and identifies staff responsible for delivering management of a quarantine facility and contingency measures in case of problems (such as fire or flood). The license is issued annually and subject to regular inspection and review.
Why is quarantine vital?
• Global trade and plant movement spreads new pests and diseases
• Pest and diseases can have major economic and conservation impacts but we can eliminate or reduce these impacts with good quarantine measures
• Quarantine measures help prevent the unintentional introduction of new organisms.
• Invasive species are the second highest cause of habitat and biodiversity loss. Quarantine reduces this risk
• Quarantine is a vital tool in global plant conservation, enabling ex situ conservation and safe repatriation of endangered species to their countries of origin
Kew helps organisations and individuals around the globe –
• By working to survey plant life and develop comprehensive lists – and sharing what we learn,
• Identifying the species at greatest risk and establishing priorities for conservation programmes,
• Providing technical help and advice – such as developing nurseries to propagate endangered species in country – and training enforcement officers working to stop wildlife crime,
• Training and building capacity overseas - so that countries develop the expertise and facilities they need,
• By propagating and cultivating rare plants ex situ at Kew – sharing the know-how,
• By repatriating rare species – as seeds, tissue cultures, plants or rooted cuttings – to help ensure they survive in situ too.
Much of this work would not be possible without a Plant Reception and Quarantine Unit at Kew.
About the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
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.
Unigro is a leading provider of controlled environments such as contained greenhouses, growth chambers, clean rooms, walk-in chambers and other research facilities. Its GroDome and GroRoom ranges are in use in major universities and research institutes throughout the UK, and have been designed and constructed to provide the highest level of research capability.
Unigro is a member of the Billings Group, an organisation with more than 40-years experience in farming applications and construction projects. Within this partnership Unigro can offer a
of skills and disciplines, which means clients benefit from a full service solution. From design to construction, Unigro provides state of the art controlled environment facilities. Visit www.unigro.co.uk for more information.
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