Seed collecting programme starts in New Zealand
In December 2013 a team composed by staff from Massey University, Otari Native Botanic Garden and RBG Kew, conducted a seed collecting expedition in Titahi Bay, in the Greater Wellington area, New Zealand. During this expedition the team collected seeds from Sonchus kirkii and Aciphylla squarrosa. The former species is currently classified as ‘At risk and declining’ by the Vascular Plant Threat Listing Panel.
This first collecting expedition is the beginning of an extensive collecting programme that the New Zealand Indigenous Flora Seed Bank Group* will conduct in partnership with RBG Kew and is one of the activities planned under the formal partnership agreement that Kew established in 2012 with the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network to contribute to the study and conservation of the native flora of New Zealand. In 2013 RBG Kew supported the work of the New Zealand Indigenous Flora Seed Bank Group by conducting in-country seed collecting training and by sharing expertise and experience in building a long-term seed conservation programme. The overall programme has funding support from the Massey University Strategic Innovation Fund and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.
New Zealand is a Biodiversity Hotspot, one of the 25 world areas hosting extraordinary concentration of endemic species, and at the same time undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. The highly diverse vascular flora of New Zealand, including more than 2,400 species with more than 80% endemism, is increasingly under threat and is therefore a priority for plant conservation. Seed banking offers an insurance policy against the loss of species in their natural habitat and provides options for their reintroduction into the wild and future use.
Item from Dr Peter Giovannini (International Projects Officer, Seed Conservation Department, RBG Kew)