Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership – Tasmania
Building on a long association with Kew stretching back to the 19th century, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership is working to establish the Tasmanian Conservation Centre. The seeds collected and stored will help safeguard Tasmania’s threatened flora.
Selection of fruits collected in Tasmania (Image: Andrew McRobb, RBG Kew)
Our achievements in Tasmania
- SeedSafe has secured 930 seed collections in our first four years
- field work has brought over 940 field records and 2,400 herbarium specimens to the Tasmanian Herbarium
- in the past two years seed material has been collected from plant species that had not been seen in mainland Tasmania for 20 years
- the seed bank facility has so far conducted over 2,000 germination tests on 405 collections
Plant life in Tasmania is under threat
Although much of Tasmania is protected, plant life is still under threat.
Habitat clearance, land improvement practices, altered fire regimes and the spread of invasive plant species and animals all conspire to threaten Tasmania’s flora. Some of the endemic species (found only in Tasmania) only grow in a limited number of sites which makes them particularly vulnerable. Where populations are small, illegal specimen collection can represent a significant threat.
Environment and climate
Tasmania has a unique and varied landscape. Its rugged mountains, high lake covered plateaus, temperate forests, lowland plains and valleys and sand dunes provide a wide variety of habitats. Of the almost 2000 native plant species 320 are endemic and 420 are classified as threatened.
Saving seeds for the future in Tasmania
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership has helped to set up the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre, thereby strengthening local seed collection, storage and research capabilities. The project will collect and store seeds to complement existing in situ conservation projects, aiming to collect and conserve 800 plant species.
The team will focus on plants belonging to threatened ecosystems, high utility species used in re-vegetation programmes and those that are primitive and of evolutionary significance. The project expects to discover a number of species that are currently unknown to science.
In summer 2008 seed was harvested from Cassytha pedicellosa, an endemic species believed to be extinct and not seen in over 100 years. Since its rediscovery, others have been able to identify several other populations and a better understanding of the species ecology is rapidly developing.
The SeedSafe programme has trained over twenty volunteers to assist with the collecting, cleaning and testing of seed collections.
Discover more about our work in Australia...
Our team in Tasmania
- Michiel van Slageren, International Project Coordinator
- James Wood, seed bank curator and team leader (RTBG)
- Stephen Harris, senior botanist (DPIPWE)
Our partners in Tasmania
- The Conservation Branch of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE)
- Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG)
- Tasmanian Herbarium
Plant stories from Tasmania
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