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Darwin Initiative Research Exercise on Community Tree Seeds (DIRECTS) in Africa (project completed 2006)

The DIRECTS project investigates seed physiology and provides training for the longer term conservation of tropical community tree seeds through the MSB partnership in sub-Saharan Africa.

The African Tree Seed and Biodiversity Centres acknowledge the need to strengthen the limited expertise of, and experience in, seed conservation techniques in institutes across Africa. Research, capacity building and networking on seed provision, storage and use contribute to this urgent need.

DIRECTS research in Africa investigates the seed physiology of about 60 identified priority tree species of known uses of dryland Africa, over 30% of which are red-listed by IUCN. The priority of selecting species was based on the previous work of countries in the SAFORGEN region. Although the need for the conservation and sustainable use of these species is clear, appropriate protocols for handling seeds of these species are far from optimal. Seeds of these species have been studied and species information exchanged among partners, 49 staff have been trained to conduct seed research, and the project has involved over 80 scientists in the network. DIRECTS supports partner institutes to meet directly and practically their GSPC targets (mainly targets 8, 15) and enhances the capacity of sub-Saharan African tree seed and biodiversity institutes to conserve and sustainably manage native species of local importance, through research on tree seed biology, training and information exchange. One of the main information outputs was the production of >20 seed leaflets for key species; these are freely available on the web.

This project contributes to maintaining forest biodiversity, especially the multipurpose trees that support the daily life of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. It has now established a continuing technical and information exchange collaboration between Kew and a number of partners in the network.

Key papers published since 2006

  • Agyili J., Sacande M., Koffi E., Peprah T. (2007) Improving the collection and germination of West African Garcinia kola Heckel seeds. New Forests 34, 269-79.
  • Sacandé M. et al (2006-7) Seed leaflets at Forest & Landscape Denmark (FLD).
  • Sacandé M., Pritchard HW. (2006) African tree seed conservation research: opportunities and implementation. In Ghazanfar SA, Beentje HJ. (eds.) Taxonomy and ecology of African plants, their conservation and sustainable use. Proceedings of the 17th AETFAT Congress Addis Adaba, Ethiopia. RBG Kew. 427-436.

Project partners and collaborators


Unite Recherche Forestieres URF/INRAB Cotonou


National Tree Seed Centre (BNTSC – MEWT), Gaborone

Burkina Faso

Centre National de Semences Forestières (CNSF), Ouagadougou

Cape Verde

Instituto Nacional de Investigacao e Desenvolvimento Agrario (INIDA), Praia

Cote d’Ivoire

Centre National de Recherche Agronomique (CNRA), Abidjan


Forestry Research Centre (FRC), Addis Ababa


Forestry Research Institute Ghana (FORIG), Kumasi


Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Nairobi


Silo National des Graines Forestières (SNGF), Antananarivo


National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC - FRIM), Zomba


Unite Semences Forestieres (USF – IER), Sikasso


Institute National de Recherche Agronomiques du Niger INRAN, Niamey


Seed Science Laboratory Faculty of Agriculture, Ile-Ife


Tanzania Tree Seed Agency (TTSA), Morogoro


Service des Semences Forestieres (SSF – MERF), Lomé


National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC - NFA), Kampala


Project funders


Darwin Initiative (Defra)

Annex material

DIRECTS project online

Conferences and workshops

  • 2006. DIRECTS final Africa workshop, Kumasi, Ghana. Participation of Tree Seed and Biodiversity Centres of 16 sub-Saharan African countries. [Sacande M, Prichard H.W.]

Project Department

Project Leader: