Scientist quits over Kew cuts

Scientist quits over Kew cuts

Scientist quits over Kew cuts

First published in News by

THE MOST senior scientist at a world-renowned conservation facility will quit his job amid fierce criticism of funding cuts.

The Kew Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) Millennium Seed Bank, at Wakehurst Place, near Ardingly, holds 1,980,405,036 seeds in storage as an “insurance policy” against the extinction of plants.

The aim of the project, pictured, is to have banked 25% of the world’s bankable seeds by 2020.

Dr Paul Smith played a pivotal role in launching the seed bank in 2000 and collecting seeds from all of the UK’s native species and 10% of flora worldwide.

He has decided to take voluntary redundancy and will leave his post in August.

This comes after more than 100,000 people signed a Change.org petition urging the government to reverse cuts to Kew’s funding.

The petition is supported by broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Sir David said: “Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after our botanical heritage and our botanical future.

“The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically.

“People who think it is just a place to go to look at pretty flowers and flower beds are mistaking the importance of Kew Gardens.”

He added that the seed bank is of world importance and should be supported by the government like a proper institution or university.

In 1983, 90% of funding for Kew came from the government. In 2014 it is below 40% and has been reduced by £0.5m a year since 2011.

Prospect, a trade union for scientists, said that Kew has already lost about 50 posts and that management plans to cut between 50 and 70 more.

Dr Smith said: “I leave with the knowledge that the work we are doing increases in relevance year by year.

“With every avoided extinction, we create options for the future and with every seed we sow, we create opportunities today.”

A spokeswoman for Kew said: “RBG Kew is currently restructuring, so we will be considering how best to replace Paul to ensure continued outstanding leadership for this vital science and conservation programme.”

Comments (2)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:44pm Tue 8 Jul 14

ThinkBrighton says...

If they haven't got the money then cuts have to be made.
But look on the bright side, there has been a massive saving in the wages of Dr Smith (or did he leap before he was pushed)
If they haven't got the money then cuts have to be made. But look on the bright side, there has been a massive saving in the wages of Dr Smith (or did he leap before he was pushed) ThinkBrighton
  • Score: 1

2:25pm Tue 8 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

ThinkBrighton wrote:
If they haven't got the money then cuts have to be made.
But look on the bright side, there has been a massive saving in the wages of Dr Smith (or did he leap before he was pushed)
"voluntary redundancy"

I suspect a huge payout and a grand pension......
[quote][p][bold]ThinkBrighton[/bold] wrote: If they haven't got the money then cuts have to be made. But look on the bright side, there has been a massive saving in the wages of Dr Smith (or did he leap before he was pushed)[/p][/quote]"voluntary redundancy" I suspect a huge payout and a grand pension...... stevo!!
  • Score: -2

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree