News / Europe

Historic British Botanical Garden Promotes Biodiversity

Multimedia

Jennifer Glasse

The United Nations has named 2010 the year of biodiversity.  Britain's Kew Gardens, one of the oldest and most respected botanical gardens in the world is at the forefront of preserving biodiversity.

Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, on the outskirts of London, has been around for 250 years and is home to some of the world's largest collections of plant specimens.  Here experts study how to germinate plants, their history, their relationships with other plants, insects and animals and their place in the world.

Mark Chase heads Kew's Jodrell Laboratory, where much of the work is done.  He says understanding plants is useful in tackling 21st century problems like climate change.

"Plants can purify the water, modify the temperatures and modify our habitats and make these more hospitable for people so if we can restore areas that have been damaged by our past activities, then this will help ameliorate the effects of climate change on us," he said.

Chase says plants' effects are easy to see.

"Just walk out on a summer's day and stand near a tree, versus standing out of the way someplace where there are no trees, and you can feel the cooling effects of the transpirational loss of water through the leaves that is taking place as a result of the presence of the trees," said Chase.

In Africa, Kew's botanists are working with local populations to identify and in some cases preserve plant species that are threatened. 

"Plant habitats are really facing severe pressures on them with change in land use, with increasing populations, etcetera.  The need to feed the people, to be able to provide fuel, results in a loss of habitat and therefore the loss of biodiversity," said Monique Simmonds, who heads the Sustainable Uses of Plants Group at Kew.

Simmonds says change in habitats is threatening plants that could lead to medical breakthroughs.  In Ghana, experts from Kew are helping identify plants that could be used to treat malaria.  Simmonds says there is no magic bean yet, but there is hope.

"It is maybe about time that we had a lead from Africa and we are hoping that this research will result in this.  I am afraid it does take years to actually identify a plant with that potential, but the fact that we are identifying plants that have not yet been studied indicates that there is new information out there that justifies further research," she added.

Simmonds says her team works closely with the local community to ensure its scientists learn from their indigenous plants and will benefit if the plants turn out to have commercial value.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid