Save seed and prosper
Saving seeds worldwide and safeguarding plant life to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) is a network that, in December 2012, comprised 170 partners in 80 countries. In 2009, the MSBP hit its first target of collecting and banking seed from 24,200 plant species in just 10 years. That success is testament to the power of the partnership and makes us confident we can achieve still more over the period up to 2020 by when we will have seed from 75,000 species in safe storage. This represents about a quarter of all the world’s bankable species.
Our priorities are useful species and plants most threatened by changing climate - those from drylands and islands, mountains and coastal regions - and from parts of the world where there are large gaps in our collections. The MSBP isn't only about safeguarding seed for the future but about helping solve some of the world's most pressing problems through the use of plants.
Safeguarding the wild relatives of crops to improve the world's food security
80% of our calorie intake comes from just 12 dominant crops, and 50% of our calories come from just the three big grasses, wheat, maize and rice. What would happen if we were to lose one of these crops?
Find out more about global food security, why it matters to all of us and how Kew is helping to reduce the threats facing the world's food supply.
- What is food security?
- What are crops?
- What is agriculture?
- Safeguarding the wild relatives of crops to improve the world's food security
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership
Today, 60,000 to 100,000 species of plant are faced with the threat of extinction. Plants provide the air we breathe and clean water, and we all rely on plants for food. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) aims to save plants worldwide with a focus on plants most at risk and most useful for the future.
By 2020, our aim is to secure the safe storage of seed from 25% of the world’s bankable plants.
Why Kew saves plants
All life on Earth depends on plants. They are the basis of ecosystems in which all animals, including humans, live, survive and grow. They also provide vital ecosystem services, such as producing the oxygen we breathe, removing carbon dioxide from the air and purifying water. Kew's scientists travel to many countries where valuable ecosystems are under threat.
Collecting high quality seeds for long term conservation needs to be carried out carefully. Thorough preparation is essential.
The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership collects the seed of plant species under threat and from habitats at risk around the world. Here you can discover more about how we collect seeds in the field and prepare them for safe-keeping.
Saving seeds in the bank
Conserving seeds through the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership provides an important insurance policy for the future of the world's plant life.
The seeds we conserve are increasingly used in the restoration of global habitats. The reintroduction of plant species will become increasingly important as the effects of climate change and other human impact events become more marked. Kew, and other botanic gardens worldwide, are uniquely placed to enable these efforts.
Our projects and partners
Conservationists at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank work with a network of international partners to save seeds worldwide and safeguard plant life for our future.
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
Science & Conservation news
05 Dec 2013
Kew's paper conservators Emma Le Cornu and Eleanor Hasler had to think big when treating a linocut of the Pagoda by Edward Bawden. Here they explain how this damaged artwork was returned to its former glory in the conservation studio.
08 Nov 2012
A new study from Kew suggests that Arabica coffee could be extinct in the wild within 70 years.
18 May 2010
Kew’s top propagation ‘code-breaker’, horticulturist Carlos Magdalena, has cracked the enigma of growing a rare species of African waterlily. The 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum) is believed to be the smallest waterlily in the world, with pads that can be as little as 1 cm in diameter.