More than £2.4 million in funding, raised thanks to players, is supporting a project that Sir David Attenborough described as, "perhaps the most significant conservation initiative ever".
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world leading centre for plant science and conservation. Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Kew is celebrating a milestone for its UK National Tree Seed Project which has now safeguarded over 13 million seeds from trees across the UK.
We depend on plants more than we realise – for the food we eat, the air we breathe, the medicines we take and much more. One in five plant species are currently at risk of extinction and Kew’s conservation work has never been more important. If measures aren't taken to protect them, we risk losing not only the plants that we already depend on but those yet to be discovered, which could hold the solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing challenges.
Kew is protecting biodiversity through the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, the world’s largest wild plant seed bank.
Together, Kew and partners from over 100 countries have gathered 2 billion seeds from the world’s rarest and most important species. Frozen in time, the seeds are stored in air-tight containers in -20°C vaults. Once banked, the species is conserved even if it becomes extinct in the wild. Through the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, player support is helping protect the UK’s woodlands and some of Africa’s most threatened trees.
In 2013, Kew launched the UK National Tree Seed Project in response to the pests and diseases, temperature changes and extreme weather events putting our native trees at ever increasing risk.
Over the past seven years, with the support of more than 400 volunteers from 30 partner organisations the project has collected 13 million tree seeds from over 70 different species. Seeds from right across the UK, from Cornwall to the Isle of Harris, have now been conserved in the Millennium Seed Bank. It is hoped these time traveller seeds will offer future possibilities for both research and conservation and can be used to grow a new generation of trees in centuries to come.
Richard Deverell, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said: "As we’ve seen with Ash dieback, pests and pathogens can inflict huge damage on our woodlands and the many plants and animals they support. Building up this seed collection of the nation’s most important tree species is a vital step in combating the challenges facing our native trees.
"We can’t thank players of People’s Postcode Lottery enough for their support in helping to ensure the future of our woodlands."
Explore the wonder of Kew virtually
During this period of social distancing, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is sharing daily content, inviting people at home to virtually enter and explore the weird and wonderful world of plants and fungi. Visit www.kew.org or follow them on social media to find behind-the-scenes footage capturing the wonders of its gardens.