Sarah paid a visit to Richard Deverell, Director of Kew Gardens to discuss their work on science, research and international collaboration.
Sarah was also shown around the annual Orchids Festival. This year’s theme is a celebration of India’s vibrant colours, culture and magnificent plant life.
Science is the heart of Kew’s purpose and their partnerships enable Kew Gardens to make an invaluable and highly relevant contribution to some of the biggest issues facing the global population. This is done through their research, conservation, educating and inspiring the public.
MPs have previously warned that government’s financial mismanagement of the organisation over short-term, stop-start funding, has meant that Kew cannot plan for its long-term future. It is one of the greatest assets still in public hands. However the Conservative government seem to have no idea about the uniqueness of Kew and the importance of its collections.
In September 2014 LibDems in Government secured a £1.5m protection of funding for Kew Gardens by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg. A further £2.3 million for Kew Gardens was secured by LibDems in the coalition government the following year. This reversed previously published plans by DEFRA officials for large cuts, thus protecting a national treasure.
In December 2014 the previous Richmond Park MP, Zac Goldsmith, secured a cross-party debate in Parliament calling for the Government to provide long term funding for Kew Gardens. Sarah, like Goldsmith, will defend a jewel in the constituency because Kew gardens is a national, even an international, treasure.
Sarah said: “I will continue to make the case for a long term funding settlement for Kew Gardens. It is one of England’s top tourist attractions, welcoming over 1.5 million visits every year.
“Kew hosts over 30,000 plant types and is home to an internationally acclaimed botanical research facility. Until the government funds it properly, we will continue to see Kew Gardens struggle, which led to more than 100 people losing their jobs, including the loss of 47 science posts, of which 15 were already vacant.”
Richmond Park's greatest living resident, Sir David Attenborough said back in 2014: “The important thing to remember is that Kew 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.
“The Seed Bank is of world importance and it should be supported by the Government like a proper institution or university. And the continuing idea that Kew Gardens is merely a playground and that it should just put up the prices to look after itself is a misguided assessment of the value of Kew.
“The Government and the scientific departments should recognise that and support it properly.”