Plan to ‘decolonise’ plants may violate UK law – report — Analysis
Strategy to confront ‘racist legacies’ at Kew Gardens risks violating legal obligations, think tank warns
A controversial plan by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to “decolonise” its plant collections has been slated in a new report that accuses the taxpayer-funded UK body of engaging in “non-scientific” political activities.
In the report, titled ‘Politicising Plants’, published on Wednesday, the Policy Exchange center-right think tank warns that Kew’s campaign could violate its legal charter obligations under the National Heritage Act 1983. It outlines and limits the obligations of entities designated heritage assets.
According to the report, Downing Street has backed it. It urges George Eustice, Environment Secretary, to investigate whether Kew is violating its legal duties through alleged conduct. “forays into non-scientific, and indeed politically charged, activities.”
Note that the plan was “attracted significant media attention,”The campaign, according to the authors, was fraudulent “part of a wider change in Kew’s self-perceptionAnd planned activities, which envisages campaigning, promoting ‘transformative societal change’, and ‘decolonising science’.”
This change, affecting the use of public money, threatens to undermine Kew’s distinctive and invaluable reputation as a non-political, rigorously scientific resource.
In March, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, published a widely panned 10-year ‘Manifesto for Change’ that pledged to “decolonise our collections,” “address any exploitative or racist legacies,” and “develop new narratives around them.”
One of these was an updated signage design for sugarcane and rubber. This apparent effort to put them in historical perspective, like their role in the slave trade, is one example.
Following the report’s publication, Kew told The Telegraph that the plans were “within the remit of our charter under the Heritage Act.” An unnamed spokesperson said the 10-year “roadmap” had been “created following extensive consultation and is, as with the reporting of all Kew finances, fully transparent and published online.”
However, an anonymous senior government source told the paper that, in their view, Kew’s alleged “variance”Its charter duties were “shocking.”The pair added that no evidence was available to support this assertion. “visitors want or support this kind of change.”
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