How is Kew helping to conserve biodiversity?
As international politicians and government representatives discuss the conservation and management of the world’s biodiversity at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan this week, Kew reflects on its work with partners around the world to support biodiversity.
18 Oct 2010
Biodiversity is at risk in some forest areas in Peru. In this location, conditions are extremely dry and rivers only run for two or three days a year (photo by Oliver Whaley).
All life depends on plants, and Kew’s leading work in understanding and conserving plants around the world is a key pillar in the fight against biodiversity loss. The many and diverse ways in which Kew’s work has a positive impact on biodiversity are summarised at www.kew.org/biodiversity, and include some of the following activities.
Saving 25% of the world’s plant species by 2020
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank is technically the most biodiverse spot in the world, with over 10% of the world’s plant species housed in one building. The Millennium Seed Bank partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world. Its focus is on global plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future.
The seeds are conserved outside their native habitat, with those plants in regions most at risk from climate change and the ever-increasing impact of human activities being targeted. Working with its network of partners across 50 countries, the Millennium Seed Bank is aiming to achieve the goal of saving 25% of the world’s plant species by 2020. To support this and offer the public an opportunity to help, it has launched the Adopt a Seed, Save a Species campaign.
Using Kew's collections to shape our future
Kew’s collections contain some of the largest and most comprehensive records of plant diversity in the world, and are a global point of reference for research. A deep understanding of plant science is essential in planning and executing conservation projects. In 2009 alone, over 250 plant species new to science were discovered by Kew, including a new species of coffee that could in the future help supply our beloved drink.
Working with partners to record the state of plant life worldwide
Kew’s recent work with the IUCN and Natural History Museum to create the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants has revealed for the first time that the world’s plants are as threatened as mammals, with one in five of the world’s plant species threatened with extinction.
Using interactive maps and charts, it is possible to see how Kew’s research highlights the different levels of threat to plant diversity relating to geography and poverty.
One of Kew’s most important roles is to engage the public with the importance of biodiversity, and particularly to demonstrate how individuals can get involved. The phenomenally successful Great Plant Hunt project is being used by over 60% of all primary schools in the UK, offering a genuine opportunity for schoolchildren to be involved in local biodiversity. Kew creates short films about important discoveries such as Plants Back from the Brink. Recently Kew hosted a debate for CNN’s ‘Earth’s Frontiers’ series, which asked the question ‘Is the loss of planet’s biodiversity a greater threat than climate change?’.
In the following video, some of Kew’s experts talk about the future of biodiversity. Watch Kew's Perspectives on Biodiversity videos.
- Kew at the Conference of the Parties 2010 in Nagoya
- Interactive maps and charts - Explore the state of plant life around the world
- Kew Video - Perspectives on Biodiversity
Get involved - Adopt a Seed, Save a Species
We have successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species and we have set our sights on saving 25% by 2020.
Without plants there could be no life on earth, and yet every day another four plant species face extinction. Too often when we hear these kind of statistics there is little that we can do as individuals, but thanks to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership and the Adopt a Seed, Save a Species campaign there is something that you can do to ensure the survival of a plant species.
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