Conservation and climate change news
Plants have an essential role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change, because they take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Conversely, if forests are destroyed by burning, then carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere. Deforestation accounts for about one fifth of the world’s carbon emissions.
However, plants are threatened by environmental changes including climate change. Conserving plants is therefore critical to any sustainable solution to environmental change.
Plants are grown out (usually under glass) for four reasons: harvesting fresher or more seed; identification; research; and display.
The seeds are stored at -20°C and may live for hundreds of years.
A germination test is the most reliable way to measure seed viability. It also provides valuable information that can be used in the future to turn the seeds into plants for reintroduction, restoration or research.
The majority of the world's seed-bearing plants produce ‘orthodox’ seeds that can be dried to a low moisture content and then frozen. Drying, sealing and freezing will often lead to at least a 100-fold increase in seed storage life.
A variety of different containers are used to keep seeds dry within the cold rooms of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.
Visual checking, cut-testing or x-ray tests at the seed cleaning stage will not determine for certain whether seeds are viable and therefore likely to be able to germinate. However, such tests can provide important clues to the overall quality of the seeds.
Several methods are used to estimate the number of seeds within collections. If fruits are to be stored, then the number of seeds per fruit must be recorded.
All seed collections need to be cleaned before storage to remove dust, debris and unnecessary plant parts.
Not all seeds store easily, so before the MSBP undertakes seed storage any likely problems need to be identified.
Seed collections arrive by courier from partner organisations across the world and are immediately unpacked in a clean area.
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Small-leaved bloodwood is an African shrub or tree with many uses, and is considered threatened in northern Burkina Faso.