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National news

A living laboratory at Kew’s wild botanic garden, Wakehurst

07th Jun 2021

As a nationally important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Wakehurst, Kew Garden’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, boasts a rich and diverse landscape of native and exotic woodlands, wetlands, species-rich grasslands, designed and ornamental gardens.

And so, with the existing Millennium Seed Bank and over 50 years of thoughtful management, what better part of the British landscape to transform into a unique ‘Living Laboratory’.

What is a living laboratory?

A living laboratory allows scientists to research and study the effects of local and global changes to biodiversity, such as climate change. Kew scientists will gather data and measure the impact on flora and fauna across a range of environments. Their results can be shared across the globe, helping to shape Government and conservation groups’ policies for years to come.

Key areas scientists hope to research

The information gathered by Wakehurst and Kew’s teams will be invaluable in helping to preserve and ensure the continued survival of our most precious resource. Their research will focus on four main elements.

  • Hydrology – Which species of trees could help reduce the impact and severity of flooding.
  • Pollinators – Which flowers and which insects can help boost pollination and healthy crops.
  • Carbon – How do plants and fungi work together to absorb carbon.
  • Wellbeing – Could diversifying our surroundings make us happier or healthier.
Get involved to do your part

Just by using your CSSC membership and visiting either Kew Gardens or Wakehurst and bringing with you future generations to live, learn and fall in love with nature, you’ll be helping the teams spread the word and do the valuable work of educating future decision makers.

If you visit Wakehurst, you may encounter signs of their research as you roam the 500 acres, such as bee identification gear and high-tech sensors. As the Landscape Ecology Programme grows, Wakehurst and its lead scientists hope to develop opportunities for visitors to become part of this flagship research project.

Remember, as part of your CSSC membership, you also get 10% off purchases at their gift shops and online. And every penny spent helps their essential work.

Ongoing research

The data gained from this research will last decades and be essential in shaping and improving all our lives for generations to come. But perhaps, more importantly than gathering information, they want the project to teach and inspire the public to get involved in preserving the natural landscapes around them.

They want people to go home and think ‘nature is important, nature actually benefits me, what am I doing to help?’

And so, CSSC are proud to do our part in encouraging as many members as possible to visit both the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Wakehurst as often as possible and to tread as lightly as possible upon the environment.

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