Ecosystem Stewardship

Combining the in situ (on-site, in-country) protection of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

Landscape image of a forest

Head of department: Dr Paul Wilkin

Good ecosystem stewardship generates knowledge and practices that sustain, promote and restore natural and cultural capital.

Kew’s unique contribution in this area includes the collection and analysis of plant and fungal diversity data (from genes and species through to whole ecosystems), enhanced by insights into evolutionary processes, ecological interactions (including pollination systems and mycorrhizal fungi), diverse and sustainable agriculture and agroforestry, ecological restoration and ecosystem health and productivity. 

Department initiatives 

  • Ecosystem Assessment: developing an ecosystem assessment pipeline (a data-driven and reproducible analytical process) to objectively assess and monitor ecosystems. This will involve the integration of multiple approaches and datasets, including artificial intelligence (AI), genomics, ecology, remote sensing and spatial analyses.
  • Nature-based Solutions: working with and enhance nature to address environmental and societal challenges (such as climate change, poverty, food security, health, and biodiversity loss) for the benefit of both society and nature. 
  • Biodiversity Metrics: mainstreaming plants and fungi in global biodiversity and natural capital metrics, promoting their inclusion in nationally and internationally agreed indicators and targets, and evaluating their congruence with metrics used for other major groups of organisms.  


  • Green landscape of New Guinea

    Conservation Assessment and Analysis

    Providing evidence to enable monitoring, conservation and evaluation of the status of the world’s plants.

  • False colour imagery of rift valley

    Spatial Analysis and Data Science

    Advancing plant and landscape spatial science, exploration and discovery.

  • A market stall with akkoub, garlic and pineapples

    Sustainable Use, Seeds and Solutions

    Researching plant and fungal diversity to identify, conserve and restore priority indigenous plants and their uses for humanity.

  • Snow topped hills on South Georgia - photo taken from the sea

    UK Overseas Territories and Islands

    Working with partners to conserve and make informed decisions on managing their unique biodiversity.

  • Field with purple orchids in

    Conservation Genetics and Molecular Ecology

    Using modern genetic techniques to inform conservation decisions and to clarify relationships within and between species.

  • Madagascan farmer sat on a cart of grass being pulled by cattle

    Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre Protected Areas

    Conserving biodiversity in the Itremo Protected Area for benefit of local people.

  • Yams laid out on road

    Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre Livelihoods

    Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre Livelihoods team.

  • Crocus in the Gardens

    Spatial Phylogenetics

    Spatial Phylogenetics team.