Kew Gardens, the UK horticultural ‘mothership’ is facing huge budget cuts – mainly affecting its science and education staff – after a £5 million revenue shortfall.
Kew, aka the Royal Botanical Gardens, will need to cut around 125 jobs out of the existing 750 positions at Kew and its other managed garden at Wakehurst Place in West Sussex. These are unlikely to be in horticulture as keeping up the maintenance standards and overall appearance of the gardens is an important part of its income generation. (Unlike many other free botanical gardens around the world, Kew already charges visitors to its gardens – £14.50 at Kew and £12.50 at Wakehurst). And visitor numbers were up 29% last year.
This means that conservationists, scientists, taxonomists, educationists and back-office staff will probably bear the brunt, which could also affect the very important Millennium Seed Bank.
Most areas of the managing government department, DEFRA, have had to weather through similar cuts over the past few years, many of which have affected scientific work. A group of British MPs have called for more public debate on the nature and need for such large budget cuts.