Kew Scientist - April 1996 Issue 9
April 1996: Issue 9

Welcome to the fourth edition of Kew Scientist to be made available on the Internet. If you have any comments or suggestions, please email them to Dr Geoff Kite

Features in this issue:

Director's Message: Kew 2020

In January we had one of the periodical reviews of our science programmes by a Scientific Visiting Group (SVG) of national and international scientists. The panel was chaired by Professor John Krebs, Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, and was convened by the Trustees of Kew. The last SVG took place in 1990. At the time of writing this message we are just beginning to discuss their report and react to their various suggestions.
Professor Charles Stirton, who did most of the work to coordinate the SVG, is currently meeting with all staff involved in order to prepare an Action Plan based on the report. I am most grateful to Professor Stirton for all the time he has devoted to this process, both before and after the SVG. To prepare for such an extensive review of our science programmes is not an easy task and a large number of staff were involved in preparing both the written documentation and the verbal presentations for the SVG. The positive report which we received is a result of the way in which so many staff took the preparatory process seriously. I am most grateful and encouraged by their team work. The report is astrong endorsement of our science programmes and in particular of our basic work on plant and fungal taxonomy.
One of the many aspects reviewed by the SVG was a draft of a long term strategy document that is currently in the final stages of preparation. Kew 2020 is a vision statement for Kew, looking ahead for the next 25 years. The SVG report said 'We admire the long term thinking represented in Kew 2020 which, when fully elaborated, will be of enormous benefit to the institution in setting out a clear framework for all its activities over the next couple of decades'.
The panel made various helpful suggestions for Kew 2020 which will be considered as we prepare the final version. This will be done once the draft, which has been endorsed by our Trustees, has been reviewed more widely by staff. Much of the work of a botanic garden is of necessity long term, whether planting trees or carrying out a taxonomic monograph, and so itis vital that we look ahead beyond the normal five year period of our Corporate Strategic Plan. Kew 2020 will enable us to take a long term approach to our planning in order to provide continuity and stability through a period of change. Kew 2020, once it is completed, will provide the necessary framework for the strategic planning process.

Contact Prof. Sir Ghillean T. Prance, Director

Email: Ghillean Prance

Reopening of museum No.1

The millenium seedbank IN FEBRUARY 1996 the National Heritage Memorial Fund, financed by the National Lottery, announced the award of £1.4 million to Kew to help renovate its Museum No. 1, a Grade II listed monument designed by Decimus Burton and first opened to the public in 1857. The Kew Foundation is seeking to raise the remaining funds and has received generous support from the Weston Family. Once funding is complete, the Museum will be developed as a major education and exhibition centre.
Until 1987, when it closed pending essential structural repairs, the Museum had housed the Economic Botany Collections started by Kew's first official Director, Sir William Hooker. Since then these Collections, the most comprehensive of their type anywhere, have been stored in the Sir Joseph Banks Centre for Economic Botany. They have not, however, been open to the public eye. The outline of the new exhibition is already planned and items from the Collections are being selected for display in a dozen of the original mahogany display cabinets on the Museum's ground floor. The upper two floors will be converted to accommodate Kew's rapidly expanding education programme covering a wide range of activities from international diploma courses to school information services. The whole project is expected tobe completed in 1998.

Contact: Dr Hew Prendergast (0181 332 5706)

Email: Hew Prendergast

Funding for the development of the Lower Nursery, where much of Kew's tropical collections are housed, has been sought from MAFF. Plans for the new nursery include a discrete building with different environmental growing zones but in which conditions can be changed to meet organisational needs. Work to redevelop the Melon Yard, which houses the alpine, herbaceous and scientific collections, begins in April 1996.

Contact: David Hardman (0181332 5512)

Email: David Hardman

Staff Awards

The millenium seedbank CONGRATULATIONS to Prof. Michael Bennett (Editor of Kew Scientist) who was awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List for services to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Since joining Kew as Keeper of the Jodrell Laboratory in 1987, he has played a leading role in extending the laboratory and introducing molecular research. Prof. Bennett was also part of the team responsible for developing Kew's successful Millennium Seed Bank project. Congratulations are also due to Dr Charles Stirton (Director of Science and Horticulture) who has been made a Visiting Professor at the University of Reading, and Dr Simon Owens (Keeper of the Herbarium) who has been made a Special Professor at the University of Nottingham.

Left: Prof. Michael Bennett OBE. Middle: Prof. Charles Stirton. Right: Prof. Simon Owens.