Annual review

2016-2017 at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

First year of our strategy

Kew is on a mission to become the global resource for plant and fungal knowledge. We want to build an understanding of the world’s plants and fungi because all our lives depend on them.

Through greater understanding and appreciation of the importance of plants and fungi, we will all value them more, making it more likely that we will all seek to conserve them. Conserving the diversity of the world’s plants and fungi is vital to solve the critical challenges we are facing in the 21st Century.

In April 2016 we launched our new strategy ‘Unlocking Why Plants and Fungi Matter’. This sets out our ambitions for the coming five years.

Find out more about our mission and strategy.

State of the World’s Plants

The first ever State of the World’s Plants report was published in May, providing a baseline assessment of the current knowledge of the diversity of plants on Earth and the global threats they face.

Read the 2016 State of the World's Plants report

The Hive and Great Broad Walk Borders at Kew Gardens

Marking the largest investment in the horticulture of Kew Gardens in three decades, we believe the Great Broad Walk Borders are the longest double herbaceous borders in the world. The beautiful planting design illustrates the dazzling diversity of the plant kingdom.

The Hive is a striking representation of a living bee hive, giving visitors an immersive experience where they can engage with the powerfully important relationship between plants and their pollinators.

Prince of Wales becomes the RBG Kew Patron

In July, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales announced his Patronage of RBG Kew.

The Prince of Wales shares Kew’s belief that a greater understanding of the world’s plants and fungi will help solve some of the most critical challenges facing humanity today.
His Royal Highness’ Patronage will help Kew to inspire people around the world to unlock why plants and fungi matter for them.

The next generation of plant scientists

14 Masters students graduated from the first year of the new MSc in Plant and Fungal Diversity, Taxonomy and Conservation, in collaboration with Queen Mary’s University London. This new investment in the training of the next generation of plant and fungal scientists marks a significant addition to the professional training that RBG Kew already provides.

Bountiful Botanics and Wild Food Festival at Wakehurst

At Wakehurst, the summer was alive with new activities and a Guinness World Record ™. The Wild Food Festival introduced visitors to surprising foods from around the world, while setting a world record for the longest hay bale picnic table.
The Bountiful Botanics Festival invited the public to try their hand at becoming horticulturists for the day, which included helping to sow the native wildflower seeds that are now growing as our Coronation Meadow.

Awards for RBG Kew

RBG Kew has won a range of awards in the last year. Our Grow Wild programme was voted as the Best Environment Project in the National Lottery Awards. Kew Gardens won the Best Attraction in London category at the Worldwide Attractions Awards. The Hive won the Landscape Institute’s Temporary Landscape award. Kew Publishing won a variety of awards for publications throughout the year.

Visits to Kew Gardens and Wakehurst hit new highs

The number of visits to Kew Gardens and Wakehurst both rose by a fifth in 2016, with more than 2 million visits during the year overall.

Kew International Medal awarded to Prof Sebsebe Demissew

The prestigious Kew International Medal was awarded to the Ethiopian botanist Professor Sebsebe Demissew in 2016. His work in documenting the diversity and uses of east African plants has hugely expanded our knowledge of the plant kingdom and is highly significant for people in the region. The Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK Describes Professor Demissew as ‘one of Ethiopia’s greatest sons’. We at RBG Kew are honoured to celebrate his achievements.

School Children

This year has seen the number of school pupil visits to our gardens at Kew and Wakehurst reach almost 100,000 for the first time since records began.

Our educational offering to school pupils on site covers all school ages and contributes to learning in many subjects.

Great progress

In the last year Kew’s staff and volunteers have generated and disseminated significant amounts of crucial scientific knowledge that will help inform policy makers on how to best find solutions to the critical challenges facing humanity.

Our people have inspired and engaged the public in our gardens and through activities in communities across the UK. Our educational offering has expanded its reach and relevance, from the youngest school pupils through to the highest specialist qualifications available.

Find out more about what we have achieved

Join with us

The first year of delivering our strategy has been full of highlights and we have many more in the pipeline.

At the time of publication, the second State of the World’s Plants report has been revealed. Preparations for this year’s Science Festival at Kew Gardens and Wakehurst are well underway, aiming to engage tens of thousands of visitors of all ages with the science of a botanic garden. We are also in the final stages of restoring the Temperate House, the largest standing Victorian glasshouse in the world, in readiness for our visitors to be inspired by the story of modern conservation efforts.

We have a highly ambitious set of plans for the future. The critical challenges facing humanity are immense, but can be solved. RBG Kew is committed to being a part of that solution. We could not achieve any of this without your support.

You can join with us to achieve our vision for a better world by collaborating and partnering with us, by visiting our gardens, and by donating or joining as a member.

Support the work of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew