Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership - Australia
Twenty-three per cent of Australian floral species are listed as under threat of extinction
Seed collecting in Tasmania, Australia (Image: Andrew McRobb)
Plant life in Australia is under threat
Australia is one of only eighteen 'mega diverse’ countries as identified by the United Nations and therefore by definition contains a significant number of the earth’s species.
Australia's native biodiversity is of global significance. The total number of Australian species comprises 15% of the world's total with a high proportion of these being endemic to the continent.
However, threatened by massive land clearance since European settlement , significant problems from invasive species and with serious implications from a changing climate, 23% of Australian floral species are listed as under threat of extinction.
Environment and climate
The Australian outback conjours up images of a complete dryland continent, but Australia is truly a land of contrast.
The extreme dryland of the "Red Centre" is a world away form the wet tropical forests of Northern Queensland and the alpine zones of the Snowy Mountains. This ancient landscape, having escaped the recent glacial ages displays a mosaic of vegetation and habitats all very different form each other and has given rise to high levels of endemism across the continent .
This is especially so in the South Western part of Western Australia, well known as a plant biodiversity hotspot of global significance.
Saving seeds for the future in Australia
Australia is making a major contribution to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership. Each of the six States and the Northern Territory all have separate partnerships with Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. In total, we work with 14 institutions and government departments across the country.
Scientists from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership are sharing their expertise with partners in the six States and the Northern Territory on seed collection processes, conservation and research.
The overall priority is to bank plant species considered rare or threatened in order to dramatically enhance the conservation of the Australian flora.
Discover more about our work in Australia...
Our team in Australia
- Michiel Van Slageren, International Coordinator, MSBP (all conservation aspects)
- Tim Pearce, International Coordinator, MSBP (all databasing aspects)
Our partners in Australia
Our partners in Australia have established a national network called Australian Seed Bank Partnership (ASBP), which ensures harmonisation of activities across the project partners. The ASBP network ensures that the teams in each region aren’t duplicating collections if, for example, plant species are found in more than one State. It also ensures a programme of collaboration between research groups from each State. In 2013 the last remaining territory, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) signed up with the MSBP to cover conservation of species on the Australian islands of Christmas Island, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island.
ASBP is operating as a project under the Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens (CHABG) and is now evolving into a major contributor to plant conservation on the continent.
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