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Developing Ex Situ Conservation Collections of UK Overseas Territories Plant Species In-Territory and at Kew

The UKOTs Ex Situ Conservation Collections are being developed to secure threatened species from the Territories in ex situ cultivation for long-term conservation. These collections are used to develop horticultural protocols, displays, research projects, and native plant alternatives for landscaping.

Collecting cuttings on BVI for local propagation and dispatch to Kew
Photo: Martin Hamilton

The UKOTs conservation collections project is a complementary ex situ conservation strategy to ensure the long-term survival of the UKOTs threatened plant species.  It also helps UKOTs meet their commitments to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). The overall goals of the project are:

  • to secure threatened species from UKOTs in ex situ cultivation (in–Territory and also at Kew),
  • to develop recovery programmes as required
  • to train project partners in threatened species management.

Selected species are incorporated into display collections in-Territory and at Kew to help raise awareness of the important biodiversity in UKOTs. Most material comes to Kew as seed collected as part of the Seed Conservation in the UK Overseas Territories project aimed at securing all UKOTs threatened species in ex situ conservation in long-term storage at the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB). Seedlings resulting from the MSB germination trials are sent up to the relevant nursery at Kew to be used in cultivation trials and for subsequent addition to the conservation collections. For horticultural protocols, requests are made for seeds banked at the MSB.

Products and outputs of the project meet the following GSPC targets:

  • GSPC Target 3: developing horticultural protocols for threatened species.We have 218 different live accessions from 12 different UKOTs being tracked in the Kew living collection. Overall, there have been protocols successfully started at Kew for 37 species from 6 UKOTs. Of these, horticultural protocols have been completed for 9 species from 4 UKOTs. Currently, we have horticultural protocols underway for 15 species from 5 UKOTs in the nurseries and micro-propagation protocols underway in CBU for 13 species from 4 UKOTs. Threatened species in cultivation at Kew include Cordia rupicola (BVI); Nassauvia serpens (Falkland Islands); Rondeletia buxifolia (Montserrat); Limonium bahamense (TCI).
  • GSPC Target 8: developing ex situ collections in Territory and at Kew from plant rescues, asexual propagation and seed collections. Threatened species in cultivation at Kew include Anogramma ascensionis (Ascension); Juniperus bermudiana (Bermuda); Acacia anegadensis (BVI); Salvia caymanensis (Cayman Islands); Plantago moorei (Falkland Islands); Silene tomentosa (Gibraltar); Epidendrum montserratense (Montserrat); Abutilon pitcairnense (Pitcairn); Trochetiopsis ebenus (St Helena); Limonium bahamense (TCI); Phylica arborea (Tristan da Cunha).
  • GSPC Target 15: development of recommendations to help build capacity for conservation in the UKOTs and upgrading facilities (e.g. J.R. O’Neal Botanic Garden, Tortola, BVI; National Botanic Garden, Montserrat) using the conservation collections as a model; provide horticultural training to relevant project staff and students in the UKOTs (e.g. BVI, FI, Montserrat, TCI) using the conservation collections; supply reports and technical information concerning UKOTs species to all relevant partners in the UK and UKOTs to enable further staff training.
    GSPC Target 16: International plant conservation networks have been developed and strengthened to address plant conservation. The collections are used within the network to provide horticultural and conservation lectures to relevant project staff and students in the UKOTs (e.g. BVI, Montserrat, TCI).

Watch the video: Conservation in action in the British Virgin Islands

Project partners and collaborators

Ascension Island

Conservation Department, Ascension Island Government


Department of Conservation Services, Government of Bermuda

British Virgin Islands

British Virgin Islands National Parks Trust

Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands National Trust

Department of Environment, Government of the Cayman Islands

Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park


National Botanic Gardens Glasnevin

Trinity College Dublin

Falkland Islands

Department of Environment, Falkland Islands Government

Falklands Conservation


Gibraltar Botanic Gardens

Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society


Department of Environment, Government of Montserrat

Montserrat National Trust


Pitcairn Government

St Helena

Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, Government of St Helena

St Helena National Trust

South Georgia

South Georgia Government

Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands National Trust

Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, Government of TCI

Project funders

The Darwin Initiative (BVI and Montserrat)
Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP) (Montserrat and TCI)
Royal Horticultural Society (BVI)

Annex material

Published papers

Clubbe, C., Hamilton, M., and Corcoran, M. (2009). 26(1&2): 131-141.

Clubbe, C. & Hamilton, M., & Corcoran, M. (2010). Using the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation to Guide Conservation Implementation in the UK Overseas Territories. Kew Bulletin 65: 509-717.

Conference papers and reports

Hamilton, M. A., Robbins, S. K., Johnson, N. P., Sanchez, M. D. and Clubbe, C. (2007) Report on the status of Acacia anegadensis Britton, including a germination and cultivation protocol.

Wenger, L., Corcoran, M., Hamilton, M. A. and Clubbe, C. (2010). Report on the status of Cordia rupicola Urban including a germination and cultivation protocol.

Corcoran, M., Hamilton, M. & Clubbe, C. (2010). Developing horticulture protocols for threatened plants from the UK Overseas Territories. Proceedings of the 4th Global Botanic Gardens Congress, June 2010

Other materials

UKOTs Blog post (February 2011): Rare plants from Montserrat on display at Kew Gardens

UKOTs Blog post (April 2011): Pitcairn plant flowers at Kew

UKOTs Blog post (September 2011): Collecting and growing native plants of the British Virgin Islands