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Collecting the flora of Spain

Spain is one of several European and Mediterranean countries with outstanding plant diversity (8,000 to 9,000 species) and a high number of endemic species (15%).
Picos de Europa, Spain

Outstanding plant diversity

The high diversity of flora and habitats in Spain is the result of several factors, such as its:

  • geographical position
  • geological diversity
  • climatic, orographic and edaphic variability
  • paleobiogeographic history

In this context, the management of the flora and vegetation developed historically by human beings has contributed to its current state. This management must be taken into account in conservation policies and action plans.

All Spanish ecosystems have been modified to a greater or lesser degree for thousands of years by human action. While agricultural activities may be one of the main threats to plant diversity, sometimes the management linked to livestock or agricultural activities have helped to diversify the environment. Traditional management systems are the expression of the relationship between cultural and natural heritage and may represent interesting examples of sustainable management practices. Some of these management systems have experienced a high level of change in the last few decades.

The Spanish Plant Red List (2008) contains around 1,600 taxa (20% of the Spanish high vascular flora) although most of the Important Plant Areas identified are within Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites.

Collecting and banking high quality seed collections, of Spanish plant species, will support in situ conservation activities. In Spain there are several seed banks focusing on native flora. Most of these seed banks belong to a national network, REDBAG, and some are partners of the Millennium Seed Bank.

Study, collection, and conservation of the endemic flora of the Cantabrian Mountains

Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership with the Jardín Botánico Atlántico Gijón (Asturias) helps study, collect and conserve endemic and threatened plant species in the Cantabrian Mountains and other parts of northern Spain across three biogeographical regions (Atlantic, Alpine and Mediterranean). The Jardín Botánico Atlántico has been a Millennium Seed Bank partner since October 2011.

Seed conservation of priority species in the West Pyrenees

The Jardín Botánico Atlántico Gijón collaborates closely with the Banco Vasco de Germoplasma Vegetal/Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi. In June 2013, the Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi joined the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership. It is a key partner for the ex situ conservation of the flora of the Pyrenees. It is located in Donostia in the Spanish Basque country, in a strategic position between the eastern border of the Cantabrian Mountains territory and the western parts of the Pyrenees. In 2013, a joint seed collecting trip took place in the Pyrenees. 

Project partners and collaborators

Project Department

Project Leader: