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UK National Tree Seed Project

The purpose of this project is to establish a national tree seed collection for long term conservation and to facilitate research to better understand and manage the native trees in the UK Landscape.
Mixed lowland woodland viewed from Wakehurst, West Sussex.

The main outputs of the project will be:

  1. establishment of an accessible, genetically representative, national ex situ seed collection of UK trees and shrubs
  2. to raise public awareness of the project, and the role of ex situ conservation in general, to meet the challenges facing UK forestry
  3. research to overcome constraints to the ex situ conservation and use of UK tree species

This project will build a national ex situ collection of UK tree seed that is genetically comprehensive and comprises sufficient seeds to support research and conservation. Collections will be available to researchers to improve our understanding of some tree species, their seeds and their conservation needs.

Collections may also be used to study resistance and susceptibility to pests and diseases and other environmental stresses, and methods to combat these. Kew will carry out awareness raising activities in order to support and promote both the project itself and the wider issues around conserving UK tree species and enhancing woodland landscapes.

The project is led by the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) which has the space, expertise and the infrastructure to collect, store and supply seeds from the UK’s entire orthodox tree flora.

The Forestry Commission is a leading partner in the project, under the terms of the Kew-Forestry Commission MoU. The Forestry Commission will share technical expertise and resources with Kew. These will include:

  • technical advice on the target species, genetics and source populations
  • support with collecting seeds, including access to land, staff support, and specialist skills
  • support with cleaning seeds, particularly conifers,
  • growing of ex situ stands of recalcitrant species
  • joint PR and fund raising activities

We are also developing relationships with a range of other organisations. Partner organisations currently include Woodland Trust and the National Trust. These partners will provide manpower (staff and volunteers) and access to land on which native woodlands are found. Further partnerships will be developed from 2014.

The project duration will be five years from 2013.

Download the UK national tree seed project seed collecting manual.

Project partners and collaborators

  • Forest Commission
  • Woodland Trust