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The UK Native Seed Hub

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Brush harvesting seed for chalk grassland restoration in the South Downs National Park. Credit: RBG, Kew.

The UK Native Seed Hub (UKNSH) was launched in 2011 with the purpose of mobilising RBG Kew's seed collections, facilities and expertise "to enhance the resilience and coherence of the UK's ecological network by increasing the quality, quantity and diversity of native plants and seeds available for conservation and habitat restoration"

Since the mid-twentieth century, species-rich habitats in the UK have been destroyed or degraded at an alarming rate. In some cases the losses have been catastrophic: over 97% of lowland grassland in England and Wales has been lost in the last 75 years, with profound consequences for biodiversity and the ability of ecosystems to sustain services essential for human well-being and prosperity. Surviving patches of habitat are often unsustainably small and fragmented, vulnerable to further degradation in the face of a changing climate and ever-growing demands on the natural environment.

In the ground-breaking report, Making Space for Nature, Sir John Lawton and colleagues set out an ambitious new strategy for conservation - to rebuild nature on a landscape scale, creating coherent and resilient ecological networks to expand and link existing habitats with buffer zones, wildlife corridors and areas of active restoration and habitat creation.

The UK Native Seed Hub is RBG Kew's response to this challenge, using our unique resources and expertise in support of Sir John's vision of a Britain where 'biodiversity is enhanced and the diversity, functioning and resilience of ecosystems re-established'.

Project purpose

To increase the quality, quantity and diversity of native plant materials available for conservation and habitat restoration in the UK.

Project outputs

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Critically endangered Galeopsis angustifolia (red hemp-nettle) germinating the MSB lab. Credit: RBG, Kew
  • Provide seed and plants for direct use in conservation projects, focussing on specific-origin, rare or highly-specialised material which is not otherwise available to UK practitioners.

  • Provide scientific advice and technical services to help conservation organisations and the native seed industry overcome constraints to improving seed quality and making a wider range of species and specific-origin material available.

  • Build awareness and demand for high quality, native-origin plant materials, engaging with all those involved in the specification, procurement, regulation and use of native seed and plants.

The UKNSH is a cross-departmental project based in the Millennium Seed Bank and working closely with horticulturalists at Wakehurst Place and colleagues across RBG Kew.

For further information please contact Ted Chapman, UK Native Seed Hub Project Coordinator at the MSB (T.Chapman@Kew.org). A full description of the UKNSH and the services we provide is available at our website.