Kew and ODA: Partners in research and Technology Transfer
- The UK Government's White Paper 'Realising our Potential' focused inter alia on the need to improve the quality of the environment and to create wealth. Kew's mission clearly supports the first aim but it is less clear how Kew, unlike most other UK national research laboratories, contributes to wealth creation. This is because Kew does much of its research abroad and facilitates rather than directly creates wealth. It does this not only within the UK but also abroad through collaboration with many agencies.
- The facilitation of wealth by organisations such as Kew through their scientific underpinning of numerous projects needs more recognition and support. In future editions of Kew Scientist we will build on this theme by showing how Kew works closely with other governmental (including our sponsor Department, MAFF) and non-governmental organisations in many parts of the world.
- This issue of Kew Scientist recognises the important role that the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) plays in promoting and implementing British scientific expertise abroad. Our growing partnership with them covers many facets and has begun to develop innovative approaches to dealing with biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
- We report briefly on the progress of some of the current joint projects with ODA and on new initiatives (the Mount Cameroon Project was featured in the last issue). Without the financial support of ODA we would not have been able to cover such a wide range of activities and are grateful for their continued confidence in our ability to deliver results.
Deputy Director, Science
Email: Dr Charles Stirton
Work with ODA on Inga
A Kew/ODA project is identifying Inga species suitable for small-scale multipurpose planting in agroforestry and forestry systems in humid tropical Latin America. These fast growing legumes can quickly recreate conditions which imitate the self-sustaining properties of natural rainforest, making it useful for planting on degraded acidic land, either for intercropping or soil rehabilitation. Dr Terry Pennington is making a systematic study of the genus at Kew, while agricultural schools, conservation orgonisations and forestry NGOs in Central and Western South America are undertaking field trials. Each trial is assessing five local species, including ones with no known uses but which the systematic survey identified as having agroforestry potential. Preliminary results have been spectacular with one or more species in each trial proving to be exceptionally fast growing, producing large quantities of fuelwood, and having excellent weed control ability.
Fruit of Inga velutina.
Contact Dr Terry Pennington (0181 332 5234)
Email: Dr Terry Pennington
Tree Seed Database
The cornerstone of any sustainable forestry strategy seeking to enhance a nation's welfare is the renewal and conservation of forest resources. Seed is, in practice, the basis of renewal. However, information on the storoge characters of tree seed is not widely available for some important families. ODA has supported tropical tree seed studies for 15 years and it is now funding a £77,000 project, based at Wakehurst Place, to construct a database that will integrate the results of research and combine them with proctical recommendations. The database will include details on germination techniques, desiccation tolerance and storage methods for species of five genera in the Araucariaceae, 10 genera in the Dipterocorpaceae and 13 in the Meliaceae; 59% of these species are on the priority list of the FAO Panel on Forest Gene Resources.
Capsules of mahogany seed.
Contact: Dr Paul Tompsett (0181 332 5087)
Email: Dr Paul Thompsett
Flora of Ceylon
ODA is funding completion of a Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon, an update of Trimen's classical account written at the turn of the century. The contract is held jointly by Kew and the Royal Botanic Garden, Peradeniya, enabling close co-operation in field work and text preporation. Two-way exchanges are promoting toxonomic skills in Sri Lanka; Palitha Jayssekara (below) is currently visiting Kew for training in fern taxonomy.
Contact: Dr Derek Clayton (0181-332 5262)
Email: Dr Derek Clayton
Dr John Dransfield is involved in a new initiative, funded by ODA and the Malaysian Government, to examine the effects af logging on biodiversity. John will be supervising a Malaysian PhD student who will study the effects of different logging regimes on the diversity of palms, particularly rattans.
Contact Dr John Dransfield (0181-332 5225)
Email: Dr John Dransfield
Mike Maunder travelled to St Helena for six weeks this spring to continue work on an ODA-funded project that addresses the serious problem of environmental degradation on the island by proposing a sustainoble development plan. The plan was drawn up by Kew IIED and the St Helena Working Group on behalf of the island's Government and current discussions are aimed at implementing its recommendations.
Contact Mike Maunder (0181 332 5570)
Email: Mike Maunder
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