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Europe

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Dracocephalum ruyschiana growing on steep slopes in Switzerland. Credit: Jacqueline Detraz.

The MSB has been working in Europe and the wider region since 2004 to conserve the native flora of this compact yet diverse continent. The European flora comprises around 12,500 vascular plants (excluding Turkey), with centres of diversity around the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Wide variation in climate, geology and topography have created a range of bioregions and habitat types in Europe, contributing to the floral diversity of the continent. Current climates range from sub-tropical in the south to sub-polar in the north, and from oceanic in the west to continental in the east, while the effects of past climates, notably in relation to glaciations, are still present. The long history of human habitation and plant domestication has also contributed to the changing shape of Europe's flora. The principal vegetation cover in Europe is mixed coniferous and broadleaf forest, although < 30% remains of its former extent.

The MSBP currently includes 45 partners in Europe in 18 countries (listed below) and the MSBP is involved in six main projects in Europe.

Current projects (Click project titles for details)

The European Native Seed Conservation Network (ENSCONET) operated from 2005-2009, funded by European Community's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) as an Integrated Activity implemented as a Co-ordination Action. Since 2010 the ENSCONET Consortium, comprising 31 European seed banks, botanical gardens and other institutes involved in plant conservation, has continued the work of ENSCONET.

The aim of the ENSCONET Consortium is to improve the quality, co-ordination and integration of European seed conservation practice, policy and research for native seed-plant species across Europe. The ENSCONET Consortium is a network to exchange information, equipment and staff, share data, and to collaborate at the European level based on mutual trust and understanding. Seed material is duplicated between the partner seed banks, information about seed conservation in Europe is disseminated, and policy makers are informed about seed conservation activities at local, national and international level.

During the summer of 2011, two ENSCONET Consortium joint seed collecting missions took place, one in central Slovakia and the other in northern Spain. During the summer of 2012, one ENSCONET Consortium joint seed collecting mission took place, in Hungary. These trips allowed exchange of experience between the participants as well as collecting considerable numbers of additional seed accessions for long term conservation storage.

RBG Kew was instrumental in the development of the ENSCONET Consortium and provides the Secretariat, which is the main point of contact for enquiries relating to the ENSCONET Consortium and its activities. The current members of the ENSCONET Consortium Supervisory Committee are:

Elinor Breman Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Angelino Carta University of Pisa
Michael Kiehn University of Vienna
Mari Miranto Finnish Museum of Natural History LUOMUS

Further information about the ENSCONET Consortium, including a list of current members and activities, can be found on our website, and data relating to ENSCONET Consortium seed collections can be found on the ENSCOBase website.

ENSCONET Consortium (www.ensconetconsortium.eu) ENSCOBase enscobase.maich.gr)

Publications:

ENSCONET(2009).ENSCONET curation protocols and recommendations. Royal Botanic Gardens, K.U.;(Spain), U.P.d.M. European Native Seed Conservation Network 1-53

ENSCONET(2009).ENSCONET seed collecting manual for wild species. Royal Botanic Gardens, K.U.;(Spain), U.P.d.M. European Native Seed Conservation Network 1-36

ENSCONET Seed Collecting Manual for wild species

ENSCONET Curation Protocols & Recommendations

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Funder: David and Claudia Harding Foundation

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Geum reptans in flower at Val Dosdè, Sondrio province, Italy. Credit: Andrea Mondoni, University of Pavia.

The network brings together partners from five plant science institutions housed at leading universities and botanic gardens across the Alps in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. The aim of the project is to deliver an integrated programme of conservation and research for alpine flora through:

  • Ex situ conservation of the region's most endangered alpine community species: 500 species to be conserved in three years.

  • Dissemination of research on these species to aid conservation and restoration activities through media, scientific publications, conference presentations and school outreach programmes.

  • Development of a conservation network to foster long-term co-operation and collaboration through research collaboration, joint field work and annual meetings.

The seed conservation partners in this project are:

Austria University of Graz
Austria University of Innsbruck
France Conservatoire Botanique National Alpin
Italy University of Pavia
Switzerland Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève

For more information about this project, including partner profiles and research outlines, please visit www.alpineseedconservation.eu

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Funder: tbc

This project started in 2017 with the objective of contributing to the knowledge on and protection of the endangered and endemic flora of the Carpathian Region. The project focuses on Carpathian endemics and sub-endemics, as well as regional endangered species, found at the edge of their distribution and covers the Carpathian Mountains, Pannonian lowlands and Transylvanian basin. The three main outputs of the project are:

  1. Long-term seed conservation of the Carpathian flora (500 species)
  2. Research into the biosystematics of selected Carpathian endemic taxa and taxa groups
    • Carex L. (Carex curvula agg.)
    • Daphne L. (D. arbuscula Čelak. and D. petraea Leyb.)
    • Draba L. (Sect. Aizopsis, Sect. Chrysodraba and Sect. Leucodraba)
    • Silene zawadzkii Herbich
    • Soldanella L. (Sect. Soldanella)
  3. Establishing a Carpathian research network

The seed conservation partners in this project are:

Slovakia Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre, Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences
Romania "A. Borza" Botanical Garden Babeş-Bolyai University
Romania Institute of Biological Research Cluj-Napoca, National Institute for Research and Development in Biological Sciences
Ukraine State Natural History Museum of Ukraine

Funder: Garfield Weston Foundation

Nine MSB partners from seven countries have been participating in the Global Tree Seed Bank Project since 2015. The European partners aim to collect, bank and conserve 200 of the Europe's rarest, most endangered and most useful tree and shrub species in multi provenance seed collections. Those involved in the project are:

Austria University of Graz
Belgium Botanic Garden Meise
Cyprus Nature Conservation Unit, Frederick University
Finland Finnish Museum of Natural History
Italy University of Catania, Sicily
Italy University of Pisa
Poland Kostrzyca Forest Gene Bank
Spain Atlantic Botanic Garden, Gijon
Spain Soller Botanic Garden Foundation

Please visit the main project webpage for further details.

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Funder: Global Crop Trust

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) in collaboration with the Crop Trust is engaged in a project called 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change'. The main objective is to collect, protect and prepare the wild relatives of the world's most important food crops, in a form that plant breeders can readily use to produce varieties adapted to the future climatic conditions that farmers in the developing world will soon be encountering. Four partners from Europe have been involved in the CWR project in Europe:

Cyprus Aegean Agricultural Research Institute
Italy Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia
Portugal Museu Nacional de História Natural e da Ciência, Lisboa
Spain Institute for Agricultural and Food research Technology (INIA)

Cyprus and Italy were the first two countries to join the project, in 2013, and have already successfully finished their collection programmes. Cyprus contributed 256 accessions to the project (target 193) and Italy 382 accessions (target 350) of 43 taxa. Portugal joined in 2014 and has also completed their collection programme, contributing 65 accessions (target 55). This seed material is now being sent out to pre-breeders.

Spain joined the project in 2016 and their collection programme has got off to a good start. They are collecting 170 accessions from a target list of 25 taxa over two years, focussing on cereals and grain legumes.

Websites: www.kew.org/science/projects/adapting-agriculture-to-climate-change & www.cwrdiversity.org

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Funder: varied

There are currently nine MSB partners in five countries with active species conservation projects. These projects run from one to three years as funding becomes available and focus on conserving the national flora of the partner country

Austria University of Graz "Seed collecting and preservation activities in the Austrian counties of Styria and Carinthia", since 2015
Austria The Botanic Garden of the University of Vienna "Conserving the rare and endangered plants of Austria" since 2016
Italy Department of Biology, Università di Pisa "Conserving the regional flora of Italy" Since 2012
Italy Ente di gestione delle Aree Protette delle Alpi Marittime "Seed conservation in the Ligurian and Maritime Alps" since 2012. Recently this work has also involved research and the publication of a guide to the 'Flowers of the Ligurian and Maritime Alps'
Italy Università di Pavia "Seed collecting in mountain areas of Italy" since 2012
Portugal FCiências.ID - Associação para a Investigação e Desenvolvimento de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa "Ex situ conservation of the Portuguese flora" since 2012
Slovakia Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre, Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences "Conserving the native flora of Slovakia" since 2012
Spain Jardín Botánico Atlántico de Gijón, Universidad de Oviedo "Collecting and conserving the endemic flora of the Cantabrian mountains" since 2015
Spain Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi "Ex situ Conservation Programme for the Pyrenees flora: West Pyrenees" since 2012

Project partners

Austria University of Graz
Austria University of Vienna
Austria University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna
Austria University of Innsbruck
Belgium National Botanic Garden of Belgium
Cyprus Nature Conservation Unit, Frederick University
Cyprus Agricultural Research Institute
Finland Finnish Museum of Natural History LUOMUS
France Conservatoire Botanique National Alpin
France National Natural History Museum, Paris
Germany Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem, FU Berlin
Germany Institute of Botany, University of Regensburg
Greece Mediterranean Agronomic Institute Chania (Crete)
Greece National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Hungary Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden
Italy Department of Biology, Università di Pisa
Italy Università di Pavia
Italy Ente di gestione delle Aree Protette delle Alpi Marittime
Italy Università di Catania
Italy Centro per la Conservazione della Biodiversità, Università di Cagliari
Italy Rete Italiana Banche del Germoplasma per le Pianti Spontanee Minacciate
Italy Trento Science Museum
Luxembourg Musée national d'histoire naturelle Luxembourg
Norway Natural History Museum, University of Oslo
Poland Forest Gene Bank Kostrzyca
Poland Botanical Garden - Center for Biological Diversity Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Portugal FCiências.ID - Associação para a Investigação e Desenvolvimento de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa
Romania "A. Borza" Botanical Garden Babeş-Bolyai University
Romania Institute of Biological Research Cluj-Napoca, National Institute for Research and Development in Biological Sciences
Slovakia Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre, Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences
Spain Jardín Botánico Atlántico de Gijón, Universidad de Oviedo
Spain Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi
Spain Fundació Jardí Botánic de Sóller
Spain Spanish Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA)
Spain Jardin Botanico Viera y Clavijo del Cabildo de Gran Canaria
Spain Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Spain Universidad de València
Spain Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena
Switzerland Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève
Ukraine State Natural History Museum of Ukraine

For further information please contact Elinor Breman, Conservation Partnership Coordinator for Europe at the MSB.