Kew Gardens is a “national jewel” and it would be a “tragedy” if its funding is cut excessively, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has warned.
Mr Goldsmith, a former editor of The Ecologist magazine, urged the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in a number of letters not to damage the research carried out at Kew or harm its international reputation.
Ministers have been accused of breaking the law by cutting Kew’s funding, resulting in the loss of 120 jobs.
As revealed in The Independent on Sunday, the GMB union has said ministers are failing in their legal obligations under the 1983 National Heritage Act, which commits the Government to ensure Kew is adequately resourced.
Mr Goldsmith told The Independent: “Kew Gardens is a national jewel, and it would be a tragedy if its work and reputation were to suffer as a result of excessive cuts. I have made the point in letters to Defra ministers and am waiting to hear back from them.”
A petition on change.org calling on Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary, to reverse the cuts had nearly 65,000 signatures yesterday evening, up by about 15,000 since the day before.
A spokesman for Kew has said the cuts will mean the “range of scientific activities will be reduced”. Many of those at risk are scientists and botanists.