Fieldwork in Mexico (Credit: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Conservation Science

The Conservation Science Department undertakes rigorous, evidence-based research and conservation activities to improve the global outlook for biodiversity.


Head of the Department: Dr Colin Clubbe

Department objectives

Working with partners in the UK and overseas, the Conservation Science Department generates evidence to enable monitoring, conservation and evaluation of the status of the world’s plants and the habitats they comprise. We employ a diverse range of techniques combining in situ and ex situ approaches.

Key department priorities

We have four interlinked research foci:

  • Conservation Assessment and Analysis Initially focusing at the species level, utilising Kew’s collections (particularly herbarium specimens) and employing novel techniques to scale-up the production of plant Red List assessments to better understand extinction risks in plants. Along with data on habitats, protected area networks and future climate scenarios, employing relevant analytical methods to enable more effective conservation prioritisation of plants and ultimately a better understanding of the status of the world’s plants.
  • Conservation Genetics Undertaking studies in population genetics, phylogenetics and genome size, using high-throughput sequencing technology and other relevant techniques to ensure that conservation actions are based on sound genetic evidence.
  • Islands Prioritising UK, UK Overseas Territories and Madagascar we provide baseline science to underpin conservation policies for plants and fungi. Key activities comprise plant inventories, conservation assessments, collections, and recommendations for in situ and ex situ conservation management.
  • Seed Conservation Working with our international partners to undertake geographically-focused seed collecting to bank 25% of the world’s bankable plant species at the Millennium Seed Bank and Partner Seed Banks worldwide by 2020.


Department teams

Conservation Assessment and Analysis - led by Dr Eimear NicLughadha

Enhancing understanding of the conservation status of the world’s plants.

Image showing Teaching field survey techniques October 2016

Conservation Genetics - led by Prof Mike Fay

Applying innovative technologies in genetics to better inform conservation decision-making.

DNA research at Kew

Seed Conservation - led by Dr Jonas Mueller

Co-ordinating the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership to help conserve the world’s seeds through seed banking and related technologies.

A seed scientist at the Millennium Seed Bank

UK and Islands - led by Dr Colin Clubbe - UK

UK - led by Clare Trivedi. Seed banking the UK Flora and using our collections, data and skills to enhance knowledge and conservation in the UK

UK and Islands - led by Dr Colin Clubbe - UK Overseas Territories

UK Overseas Territories - led by Dr Martin Hamilton. Documenting and conserving the flora of UK Overseas Territories and identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas.

British Virgin Islands

UK and Islands - led by Dr Colin Clubbe - Madagascar

Madagascar - led by Stuart Cable. Developing and implementing innovative technologies and research to increase data, understanding and evidence to help solve the most critical issues facing biodiversity, natural capital & livelihoods in Madagascar.

Further information

Conservation Science department projects

Learn more here about the interesting and diverse projects of Kew's Conservation Science department.

Conservation Science department staff

Search for staff of Kew's Natural Capital and Plant Health department as well as other Kew Science staff.

Banking the World's Seeds - Strategic Output 2020

Learn more about Kew's strategic 2020 output - Banking the World's Seeds.