5 November 2021

Kew’s collections to go digital

Kew is receiving funding from the UK Government to help digitise the Herbarium and Fungarium collections

By Kew Science News

Looking across the first floor of the Herbarium with red metal spiral staircases and rows of shelves

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Clarke, has confirmed that Kew will receive £15 million in funding to support the digitisation and long term protection of Kew's Herbarium and Fungarium collections.

The funding, which was announced on a visit to Kew Gardens yesterday, will allow vast amounts of data to be unlocked from over 8 million plant and fungal specimens.

This data will be made freely available to researchers around the world, creating a valuable global online resource for tackling biodiversity loss and climate change.

It has long been an ambition of Kew to fully digitise the collections and is an initiative laid out in Kew’s Science Strategy 2021 – 2025

Director of Kew Gardens, Richard Deverell, said:  

“I am absolutely delighted that the British Government has committed funds to initiate digitisation of Kew’s globally unique plant collections and help secure them for future generations. These collections contain unparalleled data on a diverse range of plant and fungal species that will help scientists around the world conserve nature and find solutions to some of the most critical challenges facing humanity.”
 

Kew scientist pointing at specimen on a table in Kew's Herbarium with Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke
Kew's Nina Davies showing Herbarium specimens to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury © RBG Kew.

Kew’s Herbarium and Fungarium collections

Kew houses the world’s largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections.

Specimens held within them have been collected from around the world by Kew scientists, partners and even Chares Darwin.

The collections are a treasure trove of information which underpin much of Kew’s scientific research and are used to identify species, understand extinction risks and the evolution of plants and fungi.

Opening a drawer in the Fungarium

Our collections

With over 8.5 million items, we house the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world

Read & watch