Working in partnership
We rely on plants to feed, house and clothe us, but have long been using the Earth’s resources at an unsustainable rate. Kew’s mission is to inspire and deliver science-based plant conservation worldwide. To meet this aim, we work with a network of partners and collaborators around the world.
On a seed collecting expedition in Montserrat: the MSBP works with the Government of Montserrat's Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Land, Housing & Environment (Photo: Thomas Heller, RBG Kew)
Why we work in partnership
Working in partnership is important at Kew because it enables us and peer organisations around the world to build our global collections. Through our partnership working we also gain access to other people and organisations who complement our expertise with their own, and help each other to improve plant conservation initiatives nationally and internationally.
Meeting our mission
In order to meet our mission, we draw on the skills of our expert scientists and extensive collections. It is vital for Kew, and peer organisations around the world, to maintain and improve their collections – which encompass living and preserved plants, plus botanical products and data – as these underpin our scientific studies in plant and fungal classification, horticulture and global conservation.
Expanding knowledge and gathering new specimens frequently requires Kew staff to travel abroad.
Our scientists will often work in collaboration with one or more partners across the countries in which they work. At any one time, Kew is working with around 800 organisations across 300 projects in around 50 countries. Our partners and collaborators include non-governmental organisations, charities, research institutions and commercial companies. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership also works with governments around the world to support the conservation of plants and habitats at risk of extinction and of most use in the future.
During a recent long-term project to gather seeds for Kew's Millennium Seed Bank on the island of Madagascar, Kew conservationists have been working with the Silo National des Graines Forestieres (SNGF), the national seed bank of Madagascar. Together we have collected over 5 million seeds from more than 1,000 of the rarest and most vulnerable dryland species.
Madagascar is known as one of the richest countries in the world in terms of plant biodiversity, and many of the plant species found there are not found anywhere else in the world. The seed of these unique plant species are saved at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, and in the Madagascar seed bank.
Making a joint effort
Material gathered with these global partners is accessioned into Kew’s collections and used by Kew staff and authorised visitors for research on classifying plants, biological evolution, conservation and sustainable use. Our collections are built jointly in partner institutions and held on site at Kew. We agree mutually beneficial outcomes for both Kew and our partners, such as joint research, technology transfer to partner countries and institutions, capacity building for enhanced plant conservation, staff exchanges and the provision of materials or equipment.
Kew adheres to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is the UK Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Scientific Authority for Plants. In 2001, it endorsed the Principles on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing, a ‘best-practice’ model developed by 28 botanical institutions around the globe. Kew subsequently developed its own Policy on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-Sharing based on this and the CBD’s Bonn Guidelines on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing. This document guides how it acquires and shares plant and fungal material with its partners.
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 the 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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Science & Conservation news
08 Nov 2012
A new study from Kew suggests that Arabica coffee could be extinct in the wild within 70 years.
18 May 2010
Kew’s top propagation ‘code-breaker’, horticulturist Carlos Magdalena, has cracked the enigma of growing a rare species of African waterlily. The 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum) is believed to be the smallest waterlily in the world, with pads that can be as little as 1 cm in diameter.