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UK

A brush-harvester being pulled behind a 4 wheel drive across a grassland slope
Brush harvesting seed for chalk grassland restoration in the South Downs National Park. Credit: RBG, Kew.

The Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) provides the national repository for seeds and associated knowledge, for the purposes of long term conservation, and to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of native plant material available for research, conservation and habitat restoration in the UK.

We seek to enhance the resilience and coherence of the UK's ecological network, and to protect species and habitats, which support the sustainable delivery of ecosystem services. To facilitate these objectives, we ensure that suitable plant material and information is available to support conservation and research initiatives. Our work is shared between four current projects, the UK Threatened Flora Project, the UK Native Seed Hub, the Living Ash Project and the Ash Collecting Project.

We are working to maintain, augment and improve the UK collections held in the MSB, to make them more genetically comprehensive and of sufficient number to be of use for UK science and conservation. Research is carried out in order to remove constraints to collecting, seed banking, germinating and propagating the UK flora, including better understanding the population genetics of our native plants.

Twitter: @Kew_MSBUK

Current projects (click project titles for details)

Funder: Players of People's Postcode Lottery

Surveying and collecting seed, tissue samples and field data from UK ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) demonstrating tolerance of ash dieback disease.

For more information on this project, please see our UK Ash Collecting Project page.

Funder: Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Developing and optimising vegetative propagation techniques for ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior) demonstrating tolerance of ash dieback disease.

For more information on this project, please see our Living Ash Project page.

Funders: Players of People's Postcode Lottery, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The John Coates Charitable Trust, Banister Charitable Trust, John S Cohen Foundation, Mackintosh Foundation, Ennismore Foundation.

A close up image of the cotyledons and radicle emerging from a seed
Critically endangered Galeopsis angustifolia (red hemp-nettle) germinating the MSB lab. Credit: RBG, Kew

Mobilising 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."

For resources related to the UK Native Seed Hub, please visit our resources page.

For more information on this project, please see our UK Native Seed Hub project page.

Funder: Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

A seed collector kneeling down next to a fishing net full of pond weed
Collecting Potamogeton acutifolius (Sharp-leaved Pondweed) in Norfolk

Working with a range of partners and volunteer groups to increase quantity and quality of seed collections conserved at the Millennium Seed Bank from the UK's threatened flora.

For resources related to the UK Threatened Flora Project, please visit our resources page.

For more information on this project, please see our UK Threatened Flora Project page.

Past projects (click project titles for details)

Funder: players of People's Postcode Lottery

A seed collector standing in a woodland writing on a clipboard
Vital field data is collected alongside seed. Credit: RBG Kew.

The UK National Tree Seed Project (UKNTSP) aimed to conserve and better understand seeds from the UK's woody flora, by building a national ex situ seed collection that is both genetically comprehensive and comprises sufficient seeds to support research and conservation. The project was launched by Kew's Millennium Seed Bank in May 2013 and ran until March 2020. The project ran in collaboration with over 30 partner organisations.

For further information please contact Ted Chapman.

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 on our projects in the UK please contact Ted Chapman, UK Conservation Partnership Co-ordinator at the MSB.