Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew launches new Science Strategy to stop biodiversity loss in crucial decade for the planet

Release date: 28 September 2021

  • RBG Kew launches 5-year strategy to help stop biodiversity loss and develop sustainable nature-based solutions to some of humanity’s biggest global challenges  
  • Kew’s 350 scientists will focus on this critical aim, emphasising that the climate crisis cannot be tackled without tackling biodiversity loss
  • Professor Alexandre Antonelli, Director of Science at RBG Kew says: “The next few years provide a closing window of opportunity for societies to protect and sustainably use Earth’s remaining biodiversity and to restore what we have degraded”
Deforested land with smoke and a small digger with a small area of green forest
Deforestation © R. Whitcombe/Adobe Stock

Today, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew unveils its new Science Strategy 2021 – 2025, setting out a series of ambitious commitments to urgently help stop biodiversity loss and accelerate understanding of the potential of plants and fungi to help address challenges such as food insecurity, climate change and deforestation.

Building on more than 260 years of unique scientific experience, Kew has set out five new scientific priorities to fulfil the organisation’s new mission outlined in ‘Our Manifesto for Change 2021-2030’ published earlier this year – ‘To understand and protect plants and fungi for the well-being of people and the future of all life on Earth’

  1. Ecosystem Stewardship: Conducting innovative research into evidence-led protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services, while seeking nature-based solutions to societal challenges.
  2. Trait Diversity and Function: Understanding plant and fungal traits, to help conservation, increase resilience to global change, and explore potential benefits for human health and well-being
  3. Digital Revolution: The large-scale digitisation of specimens and integration of data systems to increase the global value and use of RBG Kew’s collections for science, conservation, and education
  4. Accelerated Taxonomy: Using new technologies to push the frontiers of taxonomic research, accelerating the characterisation and identification of species
  5. Enhanced Partnerships: Cultivating current and new scientific, educational and commercial partnerships within the UK and across the world to maximise scientific excellence and on-the-ground impact

Brazilian born Director of Science at RBG Kew, Professor Alexandre Antonelli, who joined the organisation in 2019 says: The next few years provide a closing window of opportunity for societies to protect and sustainably use Earth’s remaining biodiversity and to restore what we have degraded. Science can provide answers to many of the challenges we face. The useful properties of plants and fungi are largely untapped and hold the potential to bring equitable benefits to people and nature.

“In this new Science Strategy, RBG Kew lays out an ambitious plan for how we can capitalise on our core assets – our unparalleled living and preserved collections, our world-class scientists and cutting-edge data – to deliver true benefits to people, the environment and the scientific community over the next five years and beyond.”

Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana, Country Director of WWF Madagascar says: “RBG Kew has been a long-time player in the conservation of Madagascar’s biodiversity, and I am delighted that Madagascar will continue to be one of their major conservation priorities in the years to come. The ambition laid out in this new Science strategy is up to the scale of the challenges that the Malagasy people and nature are facing due to biodiversity loss and climate change. These challenges require innovative approaches, active involvement of all parts of society, strong cross-sector collaborations and decisions and actions that strongly grounded in science, and I believe that with this new strategy, RBG Kew will contribute in an invaluable way to our joint efforts in Madagascar.”


The release of the strategy coincides with a period of build up to the UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow, at which RBG Kew scientists will be showcasing some of the nature-based solutions that plants and fungi offer to the challenges of a changing climate.  As recently outlined by the recent UN report ‘Making Peace with Nature’ and the IPCC-IBPES joint report, actions to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises must be planned and carried out simultaneously, with clear benefits arising from the restoration and protection of nature. 

Sir Paul Nurse, Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, & RBG Kew Trustee:Kew is not only a beautiful garden it is also a globally respected plant research institute, with a tradition of science stretching back 200 years. Today its new science strategy aims to understand plants and fungi to create a better world, contributing to the protection of biodiversity, the development of sustainable agriculture, and the investigation of how plants and fungi can help the future of humankind. The new science strategy will open up an exciting new phase for research at Kew.


Download a full copy of RBG Kew’s Science Strategy here

  • For more information or to request an interview please contact the RBG Kew Press Office on or Senior Press Officer (Science) Heather McLeod on
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About the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world-famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant and fungal diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew Gardens’ 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, attract over 2.5 million visits every year. Kew Gardens was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 260th anniversary in 2019. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world, as well as over 500 acres of designed landscapes, wild woodlands, ornamental gardens and a nature reserve. The Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre is Kew’s third research centre and only overseas office. RBG Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support RBG Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.

Read Kew’s Manifesto for Change