Kew Science - State of the World's Plants

Creating a global resource for plant & fungal knowledge.

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2016 saw us take on a very fantastic range of work with interesting clients. One of the most curious is the programme of work we are doing with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Science Directorate. Normally when we work a client we are tasked with producing one project at a time. Kew Science is unique in that it is not one project but actually four different projects, supporting their new Science Strategy.

The new strategy marks a bold vision for Kew Science up to 2020 and beyond, clarifying their position as a world leading institute, in their own words making them:

The global resource for plant & fungal knowledge.

Numiko are working with Kew Science to make that vision a reality online, and the first project to go live is State of the World’s Plants.

State of the World’s Plants is a bold new initiative undertaken by Kew Science to provide an annual report benchmarking the planet's plants and fungi. This report provides, for the first time, a baseline assessment of our current knowledge on the diversity of plants on earth, the global threats these plants currently face, and the policies in place and their effectiveness in dealing with these threats.

The report itself is a printed document, and Numiko were tasked with creating a micro site for it. Our goals were to:

  • Clearly communicate the main findings of the report
  • Actively engage a non-scientific audience with the report’s key messages
  • Represent Kew’s science as both authoritative, professional and innovative

It identifies thirteen key areas and aims to collate information around them and present the facts to the audience. This means one big thing to us – data visualisation.

We strove to bring the data to life and make it explorable in a way that is not possible on the printed page. For each of the thirteen areas we created some kind of interactive visualisation, presenting the data in a way that makes the most sense to the user. The data came in all sorts of different formats and we worked closely with the Kew team to understand it, pick out the story that the data was telling, and convert it into a format suitable for display. This led to the creation of; maps (a lot of maps), timelines, interactive diagrams, and charts.

Making the data interactive gives a whole new level to the user experience. It’s possible to explore the connection and relative levels in extinction risks, or explore locally and globally the implementation of Important Plant Areas. Throughout we made sure that the visualisations were useful and appealing, whilst never sacrificing scientific accuracy.

This was a great and challenging project to work on, that engaged and fired up our team. It’s also the first year that Kew Science have produced this report, we feel that we have grown with Kew Science and help shaped a digital mould for future reports. It’s also been great to establish a working relationship that will bear fruit in the other projects of this programme of work!