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MSB Programme in Australia

Kew has developed Millennium Seed Bank partnerships in all States and the Northern Territory of Australia. Outputs concern ex situ conservation of native species, (further) development of conservation facilities, and the promotion of use of the collections in restoration activities and scientific and applied research.
Michiel van Slageren and Alice Quarmby collecting Melaleuca seeds (Image: RBG Kew)

Over the last five years all States and the Northern Territory have been partners in the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership. Collaborations centred on three main outcomes:

  1. ex situ conservation of State-defined target species,
  2. (further) development of ex situ conservation facilities, and
  3. use of the collected materials in a variety of ways.

The earliest collaboration dates from 2001 (Western Australia’s Department of Conservation and Land Management, CALM, now DEC), the latest from May 2005 (Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria). For some of the projects the review period (2006-11) covers a “Second Phase” or otherwise named extension of existing collaboration.

All partnerships have been based on negotiated Access and Benefit Sharing Agreements (ABSAs) with Annexes presenting joint project activities, milestones and anticipated outcomes, as well as budgets. Most ABSAs expired at the formal end of the first phase of the MSB Project (31 December 2009), and there have been extensions of the Agreements with all individual partners (whether single or jointly within any particular Agreement) to formally cover the period after expiry up to 31 March 2010 (Northern Territory till 31 May 2010). This was with the intent to bring the anticipated, future relationship with Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership in line for all States and Territory. Some partnerships have been given a name for easy recognition, such as Western Everlasting (WA), Seed Safe (TAS), SACRED Seeds Project (SA), and QSeed (QLD).

Project purposes are variations on a theme, formulated with all partnerships: enhancing the conservation of State/Territory species and ecological communities through a program of seed banking, utilisation of the collections therein, and associated research.

Project outputs emphasise:

  1. increasing the number of collections held ex situ with emphasis on endangered, endemic and economically important species,
  2. capacity building though better conservation methods and facilities,
  3. strengthening efforts to restore vegetation and re-introduction or strengthening of populations of endangered species,
  4. provision of training and other forms of staff capacity improvement (up to PhD level) for its conservation activities, and
  5. raising the profile of seed conservation in the wider society.

Seed collections, associated herbarium voucher specimens and data have been divided between the Australian partners and the MSB. The nomination of an Australia-wide co-ordinator has led to strong in-country collaboration and sharing of efforts, experiences, and training, raising the profile significantly at a national level. Since August 2010 the Australian partners have created a nationwide partnership, the Australian Seed Bank Partnership (ASBP), which will be the main collaborator in the second phase of the MSBP.

During 2006-11 no less than 5,753 unique species, captured in 7,715 collections have been conserved among the State partners and at the MSB. During the 10-year first phase of MSBP these numbers are 7,701 species and 8,741 collections, respectively. These significant results represent around one third of the unique species in the MSB collections.

Publications since 2006

Several (not all) partner teams have submitted lists of publications, divided into scientific papers, popular papers, conference proceedings, posters, contributions to web pages, etc. The joint output of these over 2006-11 was 128 publications. The Northern Territory team was co-author of 10 papers in the same period. A selection is presented here.

  • Crawford, A.D., Steadman, K.J., Plummer, J.A., Cochrane, A., Probert, R.J. (2007). Analysis of seed-bank data confirms suitability of international seed-storage standards for the Australian flora. Australian Journal of Botany 55: 18–29.
  • Hamilton, K.N., Ashmore, S.E., Pritchard, H.W. (2009). Thermal analysis and cryopreservation of seeds of Australian wild Citrus species (Rutaceae): Citrus australasica, C. inodora and C. Garrawayi. Cryoletters 30(4): 268-279.
  • Hoyle, G.L., Daws, M.I., Steadman, K.J., Adkins, S.W. (2008). Pre- and post-harvest influences on physiological dormancy alleviation of an Australian Asteraceae species: Actinobole uliginosum (A. Gray) H. Eichler. Seed Sciences Research 18(4): 191-199.
  • Kochanek, J., Buckley, Y.M., Probert, R.J., Adkins, S.W., Steadman, K.J. (2010). Pre-zygotic parental environment modulates seed longevity. Austral Ecology 35(7): 837 – 848.
  • Sommerville, K.D., Siemon, J.D., Wood, C.B., Offord, C.A. (2008). Simultaneous encapsulation of seed and mycorrhizal fungi for long-term storage and propagation of terrestrial orchids. Australian Journal of Botany 56: 609-615.

Project partners and collaborators

Project funders


Millennium Commission