Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership – Botswana
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership is working in Botswana to help safeguard wild plant species. Climate change and human activities are contributing factors that are threatening plant life. By sharing knowledge, developing local facilities and increasing conservation skills we can help reach our goal of saving Botswana’s wild plants.
Seed collecting in Botswana (Image: Paul Smith, RBG Kew)
Our achievements in Botswana
- increased number of wild plant species accessions in the original National Gene Bank at the Department of Agricultural Research
- enabling the use of Millennium Seed Bank collections of useful plant species by local communities
- helping to build capacity through PhD's and informal technical training sessions with scientists in Botswana
Plant life in Botswana is under threat
Botswana has approximately 2,300 plant species. Threats to plant life in this country include drought and expansion of the Kalahari Desert.
The human population is also having a significant effect; since 1968, the economy has grown on average by 13% per year. This rapid development has lead to urban expansion and the loss of habitats. In addition, wild plants are threatened by non-sustainable harvesting, collecting and overgrazing.
There are currently 43 species are on Botswana’s national Red Data list, including 13 classed as threatened (critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable) and 22 are of uncertain status. There are an estimated 15 endemic species (found only in Botswana) which are vulnerable since they are not found in many places.
Saving seeds for the future in Botswana
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership is working in Botswana to collect and conserve about 400 important wild plant species during the first phase of our project. Increasing the local capacity for seed collecting and processing is another objective.
Botswana's threatened or endemic plant species are in the process of being classified, and seeds are currently conserved at the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre, Gaborone, and duplicated at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex, for long-term conservation.In addition, the project is developing ex situ living collections of rare and threatened plants at the National Botanic Gardens.
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership, in collaboration with Botswana College of Agriculture and other partners, is working with communities on the conservation and propagation of useful wild plants at Tsetseng, a village in Central Kalahari and at Lerala, a village in the Central District of Botswana. Particular emphasis is paid to developing germination and propagation protocols.
Capacity building activities are also underway. In particular in-country training in collecting and seed processing, formal training (e.g. Seed Conservation Techniques course), placements at Kew and training of post-graduates for higher degrees. Botswana partners are investigating, for example, the impact of polluted environment on seed and seedling quality, and the germination and storage longevity of a number of priority species.
New equipment for seed testing and conservation has been installed at the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre, and at the National Tree Seed Centre. Scientists from Kew have trained partners in its proper use and have helped design priority seed research programmes for the country.
An Access and Benefit Sharing Agreement was signed in February 2003.
Discover more about our work in Africa...
Our team in Botswana
- Moctar Sacande, MSBP International Co-ordinator
Our partners in Botswana
- National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (NPGRC)
- National Herbarium and Botanic Garden (NHBG)
- Veld Products Research and Development (VPR&D)
- National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC)
- Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA)
Plant stories from Botswana
Scientific research and data
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