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European Native Seed Conservation Network (ENSCONET) - COMPLETED (2009)

The European Native Seed Conservation Network project brought together 31 institutes from 18 countries. The project ran for five years from 1st November 2004 to 31st October 2009. Kew initiated and coordinated the ENSCONET project as part of the Millennium Seed Bank Project.
Fifth ENSCONET AGM members and the Seed Collecting Workshop participants during a field day at "Ciampedie Catinaccio" in the Fassa Dolomites, Trentino, Italy. (Image: Renzo Vicentini, Museo Tridentino de Scienze Naturali, Trento, Italy)

‘Europe is very fortunate having a well organised network for the ex situ conservation of seeds of plant species – ENSCONET’ - Prof Vernon Heywood (2009). The European Native Seed Conservation Network (ENSCONET) project for the first time brought together the key facilities for European native seeds. 31 institutes from 18 countries worked together. As a result of the project, much has changed in the ex situ conservation of native plants in Europe over the last five years. Today, European native seed banks speak with one voice, have defined high level, common working standards, exchange staff regularly, and most share their holding data in a freely accessible web-based database, to list only a few of the achievements.

 The purposes of ENSCONET were:

  • To improve quality, co-ordination and integration of European seed conservation practice, policy and research for native plant species
  • To assist EU conservation policy and its obligations to the CBD and its Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC)
  • ENSCONET worked on four activity areas: collecting, curation, data management and dissemination. Through these, ENSCONET has pulled the European seed banking community together and given seed banking a voice in Europe. It has created a platform during meetings, workshops and exchange visits, for partners to share experiences, ideas and protocols. It built relationships between staff, scientists and horticulturalists, from seed banks across Europe, who in the past rarely met but whom share similar goals. It is these people and their enthusiasm that were vital to the success of the network.
  • ENSCONET produced:
  • ENSCOBASE – ‘Virtual Seed Bank’ – online access to European native seed collection data including germination tests
  • Virtual Seed Bank – seed bank educational presentation and interactive seed bank in English, French or Spanish
  • ENSCONET Seed Collection Manual – a guide to making quality, long-lasting seed collections from wild species.
  • ENSCONET Curation Protocols and Recommendations – best practice seed curation practices

The momentum for conservation of native seed conservation in Europe continues in the ENSCONET Consortium.

Project duration: 2004-2009 

Key papers published since 2006

  • • Eastwood*, R.E. & Linington*, S.H. (2012). The Millennium Seed Bank project. Studi Trentini di Scienze Naturali 90: 211-213.  Science Programmes:CPB;      Science Teams: MSBP;      Notes: No 11 IF
  • • Eastwood, R.E. & Müller, J.V. (2012). Chapter 35: Achievements of the European Native Seed Conservation Network – ENSCONET. Editors: Maxted, N., Ford-Lloyd, Brian V., Kell, S., Iriondo, J.M., Dulloo, E. & Turok, J. Agrobiodiversity Conservation: Securing the Diversity of Crop Wild Relatives and Landraces. CABI
  • • Eastwood, R.E. & Müller, J.V. (2010) European Native Seed Conservation Network - Working together towards GSPC target 8. BG Journal 7(2):11-13
    • Godefroid, S., Rivière, S., Waldren, S., Boretos, N., Eastwood, R. & Vanderborght, T. (2011) To what extent are threatened European plant species conserved in seed banks? Biological Conservation 144(5):1494-1498

Project partners and collaborators


University of Vienna

University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna


National Botanic Garden Belgium


Institute of Botany - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences


National Agricultural Research Institute

Frederick University, Nature Conservation Unit 


Helsinki Botanic Garden


Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle Paris


Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem, FU Berlin


Mediterranean Agronomic Institute Chania (Crete)

National and Kapodistrian University, Athens


Budapest Zoo & Botanical Garden


Trinity College Dublin


Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali Trento

Università di Pavia / Centro Flora Autoctona della Lombardia

Universita di Pisa, Horto Botanico

Rete Italiana Banche del Germoplasma per le Pianti Spontanee Minacciate (RIBES)


Museum of Natural History, Luxembourg


Botanical Garden, Oslo


Botanical Garden Polish Academy of Sciences Warsaw

Forest Gene Bank Kostrzyca


Jardim Botânico - Fundação da Universidade de Lisboa


Institute of Botany, Bratislava


IMGEMA-Jardín Botánico de Córdoba

Jardi Botanic de Soller (Mallorca)

Jardín Botánico Atlántico de Gijón

Jardin Botanico Gran Canaria

Universidad Politecnica de Madrid

Universitat de Valencia


Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques Genève

Annex material

Conferences and workshops

  • 1/2009: EuroGard V Conference Helsinki, Finland;
  • 3/2010: Symposium “Towards the establishment of genetic reserve for crop wild relatives and landraces in Europe” University of Madeira, Portugal;
  • 6/2010: 4th Global Botanic Gardens Congress, Dublin;
  • 5/2010: UN CBD Secretariat Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice 14, Nairobi, Kenya.

Project Department