Specialist Training Courses in Seed Conservation
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership provides practical-based training and specialist workshops in various aspects of Seed Conservation, for its partners and other invited participants. Held in locations outside the UK, training focuses on particular scientific or technical issues, or associated project needs.
Kunming Institute of Botany staff receiving seed collecting training in China, 2005 RBG Kew
Seed Collecting training in China
To launch the MSBP China partnership's first seed collecting season, the Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), home to the Southwest China Germplasm Bank of Wild Species (SCGBWS), held a training course in October 2005. 24 participants from KIB, including five newly recruited staff, participated in the training.
The three-day course focused mainly on seed collecting. Dr Paul Smith, head of MSBP, and Dr Kate Gold, an MSBP International Coordinator, delivered protocols on seed conservation and collecting skills. The group took field trips to Guodong, a small village near Kunming city, and to Qiongzhu Si of Kunming, to practice collecting and post-harvest handling. The nine species collected during the training course were recorded as the first batch of collections accessioned by the SWCBWS.
After this initial training, the five new SWCBWS staff spent 6 weeks at the MSB, gaining further hands-on experience.
Seed Conservation Techniques training in South Africa
MSBP South Africa partners, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), delivered two workshops on Seed Conservation Techniques in July 2005. The courses, held at the Kirstenbosch and Pretoria National Botanical Gardens, included two days of theory on seed collecting and handling techniques and one day collecting in the field.
Carly Cowell, MSBP-SA Cape Project Co-ordinator, Erich van Wyk, MSBP-SA Project Manager, and Dr Kate Gold, an International Coordinator at the MSBP, facilitated the courses. In total, 22 SANBI horticultural staff, representing all nine SANBI National Botanical Gardens, and five participants from partner organisations attended the workshops.
Participants at a seed morphology workshop held in Sydney RBG Kew
Seed Morphology training in Australia
The MSBP's Seed Morphologist, Dr Wolfgang Stuppy, delivered a series of workshops in 2004 and 2006 to MSBP Australia partners in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria. The workshops focused on the morphology and development of different fruit and seed types, including a practical component where participants were encouraged to bring along their own seeds and fruit materials to examine and discuss.
A better understanding of seed and fruit morphology helps seed collectors and curators to: identify target and contaminant species; assess seed development stage and therefore the best moment to collect; clean seeds without damaging vital structures, and use scarification and surgical techniques to overcome dormancy. Similar workshops were held in New Zealand in 2007.
'Difficult' Seeds Project in Africa
Kew has recently delivered a capacity-building project, on Improving the Identification, Handling and Storage of 'Difficult' Seeds, within Africa. Funded by the UK government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and implemented in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the project supports the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The aims of the project were to improve handling and storage of 'difficult' and recalcitrant seeds by seed banks, community level NGOs and other stakeholders.
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