Training in the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

The Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) provides training, technical advice and equipment to partners, in order to enhance their capacity to collect, store and manage seeds of the world's species. The Seed Conservation Standards provide guidelines for how collections should be made, stored and managed, and the training programme is designed around helping institutions reach those standards.

Training takes place both at the MSB and at partner institutions around the world. Training can take different forms, such as:

Short courses

Short courses range from day-long workshops to longer residential courses. Examples include a workshop on the use of seed in restoration and re-introduction run jointly with Flora locale, and the Seed Conservation Techniques Course which is the MSB's biggest course. The Seed Conservation Techniques Course brings together Scientists from across the Partnership to learn about the practical and theoretical aspects of ex situ seed conservation. During this course participants receive practical training in collecting, processing, drying, storage, moisture content assessment and germination testing of seeds of wild species. They also cover the theory of seed moisture relations, seed storage behaviour, how to predict seed storage life, and theoretical and practical aspects of seed bank management and design.

Three field course participants each with a cloth collecting bag collecting seeds
Trainees make a collection of seeds in the grounds at Wakehurst, during the Seed Conservation Techniques Course 2016. Credit: Oriole Wagstaff.

Short courses also take place at partner institutions. In 2017, training courses took place at 10 of our partner institutions which were:

  • Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuarias (INIA), Chile
  • Cibodas Botanic Garden, Indonesia
  • A. Borza Botanical Garden, Romania
  • National Agricultural Research Organisation, Uganda
  • La Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia
  • Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute
  • Sociedad de Ciencas, Spain
  • Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno, Bolivia
  • Auckland Botanic Gardens and Otari-Wilton's Bush, New Zealand

Training courses like these bring together partners from across the region, providing valuable opportunities for sharing knowledge and expertise between institutions.

Training course participants wearing white lab coats stood around a table which has wild bananas on
Participants from Malaysia, Vietnam and Pakistan examining the content of Wild Banana fruits during a training course at the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute. Credit: Luis Salazar.

Technical attachments

Technical attachments are bespoke visits for partners to learn about something specific, such as processing collections or germination testing. Recently, partners from the Bio-resources Conservation Institute in Pakistan and EMBRAPA, Brazil spent two weeks training on collections management, quality assessment and banking with the Collections team at the MSB.

Three training course participants wearing personal protective equipment
Trainees prepare to enter the -20°C cold stores at the MSB. Credit: Mary Adiat-Adegoke.

Joint collecting trips

Joint collecting trips provide a valuable opportunity for Kew staff and their partners to work together to address difficulties in making different collections, and learn from each other. It is also a chance to assess the effectiveness of training that may have been provided, and help implement the Seed Conservation Standards.

PhD, Masters and Undergraduate placements and visits

RBG Kew has links with Universities worldwide and many of the staff at the MSB supervise PhD, Masters and Undergraduate students. Students from Kew's MSc in Plant and Fungal Taxonomy, Diversity and Conservation have the opportunity to undertake their research projects at the MSB.

Training for Kew staff

Staff training is for both new members of staff and those wanting to get involved in collecting for the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP). In the past two years more than 50 Kew staff have undertaken training at the MSB, learning skills in seed collecting and tree identification, and many have gone on to make collections of seed that are being banked at the MSB.

The MSBP also provides a number of technical information sheets available to the public, on different aspects of seed conservation practice and facilities.