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Strategic Priority 1

To document and conduct research into global plant and fungal diversity and its uses for humanity.

We are currently facing the greatest global challenges ever experienced by humankind. Climate change, habitat destruction, disease, population growth, and the associated need to ensure food and fuel security, are all taking an unprecedented toll on Earth’s natural resources. 

It is now widely acknowledged that plants and fungi are critical in finding many of the solutions to these global challenges, but only if we know what they are, where they are, what they do, how they function and their role in providing humankind’s life support systems. Which are the important species for food, fuel, medicine and other vital resources? Where are their centres of genetic diversity? What are their closest wild relatives? And how will they respond to current and future environmental perturbations? These challenges are also relevant at a local scale. Closer to home in the UK, for example, there are frameworks for managing important plant communities and a need to consider them through the lenses of the ecosystem services and natural capital that they provide.

There are four key questions where Kew’s scientific resource can make a significant and unique contribution to documenting global plant and fungal diversity and its uses for the benefit of humanity:

  • Question 1: What plants and fungi occur on Earth and how is this diversity distributed?
  • Question 2: What drivers and processes underpin global plant and fungal diversity?
  • Question 3: What plant and fungal diversity is under threat and what needs to be conserved to provide resilience to global change?
  • Question 4: Which plants and fungi contribute to important ecosystem services, sustainable livelihoods and natural capital and how do we manage them?