Mapping the world's plant life
Mapping the distribution of the world's plant life over time plays a crucial role in Kew's plant conservation work. The information that we gather helps to show if populations of plant species are expanding or shrinking in different regions of the world, and identify plants and habitats at risk of extinction. This information can then be used by authorities help guide plant and habitat conservation decisions.
Browse some of the recent maps that Kew's GIS (Global Information Systems) Unit have produced below, and find out more about how they help scientists and conservationists at Kew save plant life worldwide and share vital information with the global science community.
Explore plants at risk
Use Kew's interactive map and charts to explore the state of plant life around the world and find out more about plants at risk.
Discover more about the state of the world's plant life, get interesting facts about some of the plant species assessed, compare the level of threat facing different plant groups and see the different views of the data in more detail.
- Interactive map - Explore the state of plant life around the world.
- Compare the level of threat facing different plant groups.
- See which habitat types are most endangered.
- Find out what poses the biggest threat to plant life today. Is it man or nature?
Meet Kew's GIS Unit
'GIS' stands for Geographic Information System. At Kew, we use this tool to record and manage information about the world's plant life - for example where different plant species are found in the world and how the variation of plant life in different places has changed over time.
GIS techniques provide ways to visualise and analyse masses of information about the state of the world's plant life. This information also helps us to reveal new relationships, patterns and trends.
As well as mapping plants and vegetation, we can also analyse the information we collect alongside other environmental data to find relationships. This helps Kew to identify plant life at risk of extinction and provides a focus for our global conservation work.
Plant family and genera map
This interactive map of plant family and genera data shows at a glance which regions of the world are the most – and least – diverse in terms of the numbers of plant genera and families they contain, and makes it possible to explore visually the diversity of plant life across the world.
Produced by Kew’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems) team, the map also reveals spatial relationships which may otherwise have remained hidden and allows scientists to interact with the data in new and novel ways.
New mapping technology such as that provided by Google Earth has made a huge difference to the way Kew’s botanists deal with the vast amount of plant data they collect.
Science & Conservation news
22 May 2013
Kew has contributed to a groundbreaking report on the state of wildlife in the UK in time for International Day of Biological Diversity. It reveals that 60% of species studied have declined over recent decades.
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.
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew