Kew says cuts on track as it launches science strategy

Kew plans to spend £14-£15m on science in 2015/16 from a £54m-£55m overall budget.

The west London botanic garden has shed 100 posts in the last eight months, with just under half (47) going from the science department, which now numbers 160. Final numbers will be released at the end of the 2014/15 financial year.

Kew had a £5.5m "hole" in its budget caused by a decline in Government funding, Kew Foundation reserves being depleted, rising costs and a reluctance to further raise entrance fees.

Kew director Richard Deverell said Kew will hit targets for the 2014/15 financial year for cost reduction. He said the "future health" of Kew will come through growing income, from maintaining Government funding and from self-generated income. Visitor numbers were up to 1.35m in 2014 from 1.32m in 2014.

Some £21m is likely to come from Government, unchanged from this financial year. But there is "uncertainty" because of the forthcoming general election.

The new science strategy, written by Kew science director Dr Kathy Willis, also includes an online portal one stop shop for all plant and fungal information from Kew’s collection, and an annual children’s science festival from 2016.

Kew wants to 'own' chocolate as it is the only place in London that grows it.

The five-year science plan is designed to update Victorian practices and "siloing" in the organisation at the botanic garden, founded in 1759.

Further plans include an annual health check of the world’s plants.

Kew will no longer be working in the field doing planting and want NGOs to do that work instead.

A new MSc in plant and fungal taxonomy, diversity and conservation launches in September 2015.


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