Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. An internationally important botanical research and education institution, it employs 723 staff. Its board of trustees is chaired by Marcus Agius, a former chairman of Barclays.
The organisation manages botanic gardens at Kew in Richmond upon Thames in southwest London, and at Wakehurst Place, a National Trust property in Sussex which is home to an internationally important Millennium Seed Bank, whose scientists work with partner organisations in more than 95 countries. Seed stored at the bank fulfils two functions: it provides an ex-situ conservation resource and also facilitates research around the globe by acting as a repository for seed scientists. Kew, jointly with the Forestry Commission, founded Bedgebury National Pinetum in Kent, specialising in growing conifers.
The organisation has an average of 1 million paying visitors per year. Its 326-acre site at Kew has 40 historically important buildings and collections of over 40,000 species of plants and it became a United Nations World Heritage Site on 3 July 2003.