Thousands of plants and fungi species are presently at risk of extinction. Teams at Kew are working to save these species for future generations before they are lost for good. Find out how they are doing it and some of the success stories.
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) - a network of 120 partners in 54 countries - hit its first target of collecting and banking seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild plants in just 10 years when it banked the 24,200th seed of the Yunnan banana (Musa itinerans) in 2009. By 2020, the aim of the MSBP is to secure the safe storage of seed from 25% of the world’s plants.
In the lab
Despite being thought of as extinct for nearly 50 years, the Ascension Island parsley fern (Anogramma ascensionis) was rediscovered, clinging to an unstable cliff on a sharp mountain ridge on Ascension Island, one of the UK Overseas Territories. Although only four specimens found at the site, a small section of frond was sent over to the Conservation Biotechnology lab at Kew and with this, experts managed to culture A. ascensionis spores, and build up a stock of plants.
In the field
Kew's scientists travel to many countries where valuable ecosystems are under threat, such as Mozambique and Madagascar. By documenting, describing and understanding the world’s plant and fungal diversity, Kew can understand the composition of the vegetation of different environments and work with partners towards finding ways of conserving them.
In the Gardens
Work is carried out in the nurseries at Kew Gardens too. Tropical Nursery staff are often called upon to propagate plants and send them back to their place of origin. For example, after populations of the café marron (Ramosmania rodriguesii) dwindled to just one plant on the Mauritian island of Rodrigues, Kew staff successfully propagated it to ensure the survival of the species. There are now several healthy plants growing in the Tropical Nursery and some have been sent back to Rodrigues.
Ascension Island parsley fern
lady's slipper orchid
snake’s head fritillary
tree sea lavender
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