Kew’s Plant Assessment Unit

Accelerating the identification of plants threatened with extinction and increasing the knowledge available on the conservation status of less well-represented groups on the IUCN Red List.

Palm in a dry landscape with smoke

In 2016, a five-year collaboration between Toyota and IUCN was initiated which aims to deliver critically important assessments of wild species for The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.  As part of this five-year collaboration, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew created a Plant Assessment Unit (PAU), where dedicated staff provide a focal point for Kew’s scientists working on conservation assessments. Addressing the need to accelerate the assessment of species in tropical regions, the team support the preparation and publication of extinction risk assessments on the IUCN Red List.

Identifying species at risk is a central goal for conservation. In the face of accelerating biodiversity loss and limited resources, assessment of the extinction risk of species is essential for conservation priority-setting. These assessments can be used to assist governments and conservation organisations to prioritise and guide effective conservation action and inform policy makers.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew provides unique taxonomic expertise and data acquired over decades as the basis for conservation assessments. With the help of Kew scientists, over the five years, we plan to add assessments of over 4,000 species to the Red List, ranging from global assessments of major groups to studies focused on the endemic species of conservation concern in a particular country. Key  outputs will include a global assessment of Coffea, which ranks second only to oil in terms of value of globally traded commodities; a global assessment of Cola, an African tree genus which includes the source of the 'secret' ingredient in popular soft drinks and a global assessment of Myrcia, a Neotropical genus of trees and shrubs which form an important component of the diversity in some of Brazil's most threatened habitats.

Nic Lughadha, E., Walker, B.E., Canteiro, C., Chadburn, H., Davis, A.P., Hargreaves, S., Lucas, E.J., Schuiteman, A., Williams, E. Bachman, S.P., Baines, D., Barker, A., Budden, A.P., Carretero, J., Clarkson, J.J., Roberts, A. & Rivers, M.C. (2019)

The use and misuse of herbarium specimens in evaluating plant extinction risks

Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 374(1763)

Davis, A. P., Chadburn, H., Moat, J., O’Sullivan, R., Hargreaves, S., & Lughadha, E. N. (2019).

High extinction risk for wild coffee species and implications for coffee sector sustainability.

Science advances, 5(1), eaav3473.

Brummitt, N.A., Bachman, S.P., Griffiths-Lee, J., Lutz, M., Moat, J.F., Farjon, A., Donaldson, J.S., Hilton-Taylor, C., Meagher, T.R., Albuquerque, S. & Aletrari, E. (2015)

Green plants in the red: a baseline global assessment for the IUCN sampled Red List Index for plants

PloS ONE 10(8), p.e0135152



  • Toyota


  • IUCN