12 April 2021

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The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is one of the world’s best-loved botanic gardens, and a world leading centre for plant science and conservation. Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Kew is helping to protect the UK’s woodlands and some of Africa’s most threatened trees.

Forests are crucial to all life on Earth - they provide a home to 75% of the planet’s plants and animals, they provide food, fuels and medicine and are incredibly important for mental health and wellbeing.

But they are disappearing at an alarming pace; an area of tropical rainforest twice the size of Wales is lost every year.

In response to this, Kew scientists have recently set out ten ‘golden rules’ for reforestation: a list to highlight how forests can be restored in the most effective way possible. The first ‘rule’ in this list is to protect existing forest first. Millions of hectares of forests are destroyed every year, leading to huge carbon dioxide emissions that are not easily offset by reforestation. It can take over 100 years for these forests to recover, so it is crucial to protect what is already there before planting more. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery are helping Kew to do just that.

Protecting important forests in Africa

Last year, the Cameroonian government approved logging concessions for Ebo Forest, a richly biodiverse and intact forest in Africa. Following a campaign and data supplied by Kew scientists and partners, the decision was reversed. Ebo Forest, one of the largest intact rainforests in Cameroon, is home to incredible wildlife and until recently, has remained relatively unknown to botanical science. With funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Cameroon is now one of Kew’s Tropical Important Plant Areas which means the forests there can be protected for years to come.

Conserving the UK’s native trees

In 2013, Kew launched the UK National Tree Seed Project, with funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, in response to the pests and diseases, temperature changes and extreme weather events putting our native trees at ever increasing risk.

The project has collected 13 million tree seeds from over 70 different species in that time from right across the UK, from Cornwall to the Isle of Harris. They are all conserved in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank in Sussex where it is hoped these time traveller seeds will offer future possibilities for research and conservation and to be used to grow a new generation of trees in centuries to come.

Kew’s pledge to protect biodiversity

RBG Kew has recently published its 10 year strategy ‘Our Manifesto for Change’ to end the extinction crisis and protect nature, mapping out its mission and pledges to intensify efforts to understand and protect plants and fungi, for the wellbeing of people and the future of all life on Earth.

Players of People's Postcode Lottery have raised over £2.8 million for Kew Gardens.

Image: RBG Kew