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Breathing Planet Programme

The Breathing Planet Programme is Kew’s ten-year action plan to rescue, revive and restore the plants and fungi that directly or indirectly sustain us all. Its aim is to help the planet – and everything that lives on it – to breathe a little more easily, paving the way for a better and more secure future.

There’s no one way to achieve this, so we are pursuing our goal through seven strategies, each drawing on different aspects of our work. We are not working alone: we know from experience that the key to success and getting things done quickly is partnership – working with colleagues around the world.

At the heart of the Breathing Planet Programme is the work Kew is best known for – discovering and understanding the diversity of plants. We’ve been doing it longer than most but there’s plenty left to discover. Some places are still full of unknown species – for the past two decades, botanists have discovered some 2,000 new species each year. It’s important to find and study as many of these species as we can to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the plant world.

Why is that so important? Not because we want a complete collection of specimens and an exhaustive list of species, but because this knowledge is fundamental to everything we do. If you want to conserve plants you must to be able to identify them and know which species grow where. If you want to make use of a plant you need its name to track down every piece of information about it – how to grow it, how well it copes with, for example, drought or pests and whether it is a rich source of nutrients or a much-needed medicine.

Kew's Breathing Planet Programme consists of seven roads to a more resilient planet

Sustainability needs plant science. Kew holds the world’s greatest concentration of knowledge about plants. We work globally with other botanic gardens and partners to help reduce the extent and impact of climate change, and to rescue species and habitats from destruction.

The Breathing Planet Programme has seven key actions:

  1. Diversity challenge - driving discovery and global access to essential information
  2. Search and rescue - identifying highly threatened species and regions
  3. Help for habitats - helping global conservation programmes on the ground
  4. Local plants for local people - growing locally appropriate species for a changing world
  5. Save seed and prosper - safeguarding 25% of species through the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership
  6. Running repairs - building a global network to restore damaged habitats
  7. Wonders and marvels - using botanic gardens to inform and inspire