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Millennium Seed Bank Project in Lebanon

Ex situ conservation of the wild flora of Lebanon has been carried out since 1996 with a total of 1293 collections made in the review period 2006-11, representing 471 unique species, now conserved. Partners LARI are currently developing a dry room and seed bank with advice from the MSBP.

Seed collections drying at Lebanese partner institute LARI

The collaboration with the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) was formalised in 2000, and renewed in 2005 for a second 5-year period to July 2010. Since then it has been extended with specific targets until July 2012. RBG Kew and LARI agreed to work together with the purpose of complementing existing in situ conservation in Lebanon by supporting the collection, study and ex situ conservation of Lebanese flora. This purpose is met through the following objectives:

  • The establishment of a verified and well-documented seed collection of plant species indigenous to Lebanon, and by
  • The establishment of a mutually beneficial conservation training, research and educational programme.

The Project Purpose has been addressed through the delivery of the following outputs:

  1. Establishment of a facility to maintain a secure, long-term seed collection of Lebanese endemic, threatened and otherwise significant plant species that is available and utilised for research and possible species recovery activities; this collection is complemented by herbarium vouchers of each seed collection and by relevant data, captured in an accessible database. A long-term seed storage facility in Lebanon is in the process of being established during 2011. The collection is, however, already available for research and possible species recovery activities from the materials.
  2. Increased knowledge and capacity to collect and conserve seed within staff of LARI. This is aided by the production by Kew’s GIS unit in 2006 of a Collection Guide to rare and endangered species of Lebanon (a total of 142 taxa are treated from 728 considered and 1,700 species data based in compilations prepared by LARI and the MSB).
  3. Bringing about an understanding within government and the broader community of the critical role of seed collections in an integrated approach to species and community conservation and restoration. Examples of this are the fact that conserved materials have been used in PhD research at local Lebanese universities, that the joint Kew-LARI project features at LARI ‘open days’ for the wider public, and that several features on the project were published in national Lebanese newspaper such as An-Nahar.

Publications since 2006

Project partners and collaborators

Project funders

UK

Millennium Commission