Plant Diversity ›› 2019, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (02): 124-131.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2018.06.001

• Articles • Previous Articles    

Capturing, protecting and restoring plant diversity in the UK: RBG Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank

Ted Chapman, Stephanie Miles, Clare Trivedi   

  1. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK
  • Received:2018-02-08 Revised:2018-05-31 Online:2019-04-25 Published:2019-05-18
  • Contact: Ted Chapman

Abstract: Ex situ seed banking is a practical and cost-effective means of preserving wild plant diversity and a crucial complement to the in situ conservation and restoration of species and habitats. As pressures on the natural environment have grown, so has the call for seed banks to provide scientifically-robust, practical solutions to seed-related problems in nature conservation, from single-species recovery and reintroduction to the restoration of complex, dynamic communities at the largest scales. In this paper, we discuss how the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and its Millennium Seed Bank have responded to this call in the United Kingdom. We demonstrate that banked seed collections can provide a range of otherwiseunavailable, high quality, known-origin, genetically-diverse biological materials. The data, expertise and specialist facilities that accompany these collections are also valuable, helping overcome constraints to the collection, production and effective use of native seed. Challenges remain - to ensure ex situ collections protect the species and genetic diversity that will enable plants to adapt to a changing environment, and to find new ways for seed banks to mobilise their resources at a landscape scale.

Key words: Seed banking, Ex situ conservation, Botanic garden, Species-reintroduction, Ecological restoration, Native seed production