Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership – SeedQuest in New South Wales
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership, through the SeedQuest New South Wales programme, is providing insurance against the loss of rare plant species in the New South Wales region.
The Blue Mountains of New South Wales (Image: Tim Pearce, RBG Kew)
The New South Wales Seed Bank collection now holds 37% of the regions seedbearing flora. Threatened species have been a major focus of our collecting program, and 30% of threatened plant species in New South Wales are now held in our seed bank.Peter Cuneo, Manager, Natural Heritage
Unlike anything known to be living today, the Wollemi pine has often been called a 'living fossil', as the closest match that botanists can make is to fossils of plant remains from Australia.
Only 100 mature plants are known to exist in the wild and sadly the sites are now threatened with the devastating soil-borne fungi Phytophthora cinnamomi. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership, through the SeedQuest New South Wales programme, is providing insurance against the loss of rare plant species in the New South Wales region. We are preserving seeds in long-term storage. When they are required, the seeds can be germinated and reintroduced to the wild.
Plant life in New South Wales is under threat
New South Wales is home to 5,714 seed bearing plant species which includes a total of 1,196 endemic species (plants found exclusively in NSW). Increasing soil salinity, forest clearance and the devastating spread of the soil-borne pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi have meant that 600 of these are listed as being under threat of extinction.
Of particular concern are the alpine plants which grow in an ecosystem particularly vulnerable to climate change. Snow cover is predicted to decline as temperatures increase.
Environment and climate
New South Wales has three main physical regions. Coastal lowlands, interior plains and eastern highlands characterised by sediments and volcanic rocks. The fertile western plains cover two thirds of the state and are used mainly for pasture and grain farming. Irregular river flow and rainfall produce a semi-arid to arid climate which is susceptible to severe and prolonged droughts.
Forests of eucalyptus, pine, and tropical softwood are found on the coastal plain and in the highlands. In the eastern highlands lies a mountainous strip comprising a series of plateaus with an average elevation of 760 metres that separates the narrow coast from the great plains to the west, making New South Wales a land of contrasts.
Saving plant life in New South Wales
SeedQuest New South Wales marks a flagship international collaboration between Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership and the New South Wales Seed Bank housed at the Mount Annan Botanic Garden, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
The project aims to collect 1,280 species over six years, and preserve them at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex and in the New South Wales Seed Bank. The project addresses both the ex-situ and the in-situ conservation of New South Wales plant species and ecological communities.
Substantial seed collections from the local and endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland have been established for use in re-vegetation projects. SeedQuest New South Wales collections also provide a major contribution to the regent honeyeater recovery plan, by providing seed material for replanting of habitat and food trees for this rare bird in the western Blue Mountains.
The project has three key aims:
- an increase in the number of long-term seed collections of priority NSW species held and available
- capacity building within the NSW Seed Bank including a review of current methods of ex-situ seed conservation and the adoption of improved methods, where necessary
- the strengthening of recovery planning for threatened species and ecological communities
The New South Wales Seed Bank provides the capacity for the collection and long-term storage of seed, with a special focus on species listed under the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.
It has a strong research team which complements the seed collections with novel information on how to germinate seeds for growing the conserved plants on in the wild.
Discover more about our work in Australia...
Our team in New South Wales
- Tim Pearce, MSBP international co-ordinator
Our partners in New South Wales
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