UK National Tree Seed Project

Vital field data is collected alongside seed. Credit: RBG, Kew.

The UK National Tree Seed Project (UKNTSP) is working to both better understand and to conserve seeds from the UK's woody flora. The project will build a national ex situ seed collection that is both genetically comprehensive and comprises sufficient seeds to support research and conservation.

Over recent years a series of high level reports to the UK government have made the case for conserving, restoring and extending woodland cover in the UK in order to develop a coherent ecological network, resilient to the impacts of climate change and other environmental change pressures. Trees and woodlands provide a number of ecosystem goods and services including locking up carbon, regulating climate, flood mitigation, soil stabilisation and providing space and corridors for wildlife. Well managed forests can also provide a source of sustainable timber and the benefits of woodlands to the nation's physical and mental health have also been recognised.

However, trees and woodlands face increasing risks from changing phenology, drought, fire, invasive species and increased incidence of pests and diseases.

It is in this context that the UKNTSP was launched by Kew's Millennium Seed Bank in May 2013. The project is making and conserving genetically comprehensive collections from UK native trees and shrubs. These collections will be accessible to researchers and conservation projects in order to meet the many challenges facing UK trees and woodlands.

The project runs in collaboration with over 30 partners including Forest Research, the Woodland Trust, and a range of Wildlife Trusts.

Overall goal

To ensure that suitable plant material and information is available to support conservation, research and other activities aimed at achieving national goals of increasing woodland cover, resources and resilience, in order to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and provide ecosystem services.

Project purpose

To provide a national repository of plant material and associated knowledge, for the purposes of long term conservation, and to make these resources available to users, in order to better understand and manage tree and shrub species in the UK landscape.

Project outputs

  • Establishment of an accessible, genetically representative, national seed collection of UK trees and shrubs

  • Research to understand and overcome constraints to the ex situ conservation and use of UK tree species

  • To raise public awareness of the project, and the role of ex situ conservation in general, to meet the challenges facing the conservation and management of UK trees, woods and forests

For further information please contact Clare Trivedi (, Alice Hudson, Bede West, Rachael Davies, Roberta Gargiulo.

Kew Science blog: Banking the UK's Seeds: the MSB UK Programme

Kew Science blog: Collecting holly with the UK National Tree Seed Project

For Project Collecting manual, field data sheet and landowner consent form see our resources page.