Job losses are on the cards at Kew Gardens as the world-famous botanical site faces up to a £5million funding gap.

The 300 acre Unesco World Heritage gardens opened in 1759 and saw a rise in visitor numbers last year of 29 per cent. Yet it is still suffering from the effects of the economic downturn.

Director Richard Deverell said: "The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, like many organisations, is facing significant financial challenges as a result of the economic situation of the last few years. In 2014/15, RBG Kew faces a shortfall of £5million.

"RBG Kew has a global role to help people use plant diversity to solve the greatest challenges of our time from food security to clean water for a growing world population, and arguably the world needs Kew now more than at any point in its history."

He said RBG Kew's leadership was "working fast" to place the organisation on a strong footing to deliver on this role, adding that a new Executive Board is leading the development of strategies in the key areas of science and the public offering, as well as strategies for growth of commercially-generated income in the years ahead.

 

Mr Deverell said: "RBG Kew is driving hard to grow self-generated income, and we aim to fill roughly a third of the shortfall next financial year through income growth. RBG Kew is also working to make the organisation more efficient. Costs will be reduced and these will include changes in staffing. We will be working with staff to explore all options including schemes for voluntary exits, reduced working hours and unpaid leave, before moving onto consideration of redeployment, voluntary redundancies or, as a last resort, compulsory redundancies."

There are currently approximately 750 staff working across kew’s main site and its sister gardens Wakehurst Place in Sussex. Of these around 125 jobs will need to be lost.

Mr Deverell added: “We are working through detailed plans internally and will share more once this process is completed."

Kew’s Easter festivities are due to begin next Saturday (April 5) when Charlie’s Chocolate Adventure launches. It will run until April 21 and celebrates 50 years since Roald Dahl wrote the famous book about a young boy who finds a Golden Ticket to a new life of magic and wonder inside Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.For details of all the activities, including face painting, chocolate talks, a plant hunt and an Easter egg hunt.