Status and Funding

Under the National Heritage Act 1983 the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a non-departmental public body with exempt charitable status.

We receive a substantial proportion of our annual funding as grant-in-aid from our sponsoring department, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Other income is received from visitor admission charges, catering, RBG Kew Enterprises (trading, hirings, events and retailing), the activities of the Foundation and Friends, and grants and donations from individuals and organisations.

Law and Policy

The National Heritage Act 1983 defines the broad objectives and responsibilities for our Board of Trustees. Under the terms of the Act the Board shall:

  • carry out research into the science of plants and related subjects and disseminate the results;
  • provide advice, instruction and education in relation to the aspects of botany in which we are involved;
  • provide other plant related services including quarantine.
  • care for the collections;
  • keep the collections as national reference collections, secure and available for study;
  • afford opportunities to the public to enter land managed by the Board for the purpose of gaining knowledge and enjoyment.

As a body set up under statute, the UK Government has a primary role in ensuring that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is adequately resourced to fulfil its statutory obligations.

International law

We are also committed to international laws, conventions and agreements to which the UK Government is a signatory party. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention to Combat Desertification and a number of specific agreements provide new frameworks - most notably in the areas of collection and in the sharing of knowledge and benefits which might arise from our work with other countries. We also provide advice to Government on matters relating to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES ).

Intellectual property rights

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew has a clearly stated position with regard to ownership rights related to profits that might result from its research leading to commercial development of products from plants from other parts of the world, and has a number of agreements and conventions with countries where projects take place.