Kew Gardens have been discussing their work in combatting the illegal trade in plants with Richmond Park and North Kingston MP Zac Goldsmith.

His visit to Kew began with a briefing for their resident experts Clive Hayter, Sonia Dhanda and Bente Kligaard.

They spoke about Kew’s work in protecting plant species and advising the government on which plants should be categorized for special protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

This was followed by a tour around Kew’s Tropical Nursery, where Mr Goldsmith got to see the rare Café Marron tree from Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean.

This was thought to be extinct, but one was found in the 1970s and cuttings were sent to Kew to ensure its survival.

Mr Goldsmith said: “It is one of the great pleasures of being this area’s Member of Parliament to be able to represent Kew Gardens – one of the greatest scientific gems in the world.

“I was delighted to hear about yet more brilliant work that Kew is doing to protect the world’s plants, and I will be doing all I can to make sure that October’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference (IWT) makes a positive difference not just to great animal species but for plants too.”

Mr Goldsmith has spent recent weeks meeting NGOs, campaigners and government figures to influence the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference’s agenda.

He was appointed the government’s champion for the conference and is trying to ensure that it makes a difference in stopping the illegal trade in wildlife products and the destruction of iconic species and ecosystems.