Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership - Georgia
In a country like Georgia with its rich, unique and diverse flora, seed collection and storage will help in our quest to save plant diversity. Increasing threats to plants come from changes in land use, climate and a burgeoning human population.
Georgia landscape (Image: RBG Kew)
An essential part of biodiversity protection is conservation of plants through seed banking. The Millennium Seed Bank partnership is an extremely important international network with a focus on seed conservation, and I think this work is extremely important for our country. The seed of almost 17% of plant species found in Georgia are already saved.Ioseb Kartsivadze, Head of Biodiversity Protection Service, Department of Integrated Environmental Management and Biodiversity, Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia
Plant life in Georgia is under threat
One reason that it is so important to collect seeds in Georgia is the very high proportion of endemic species (plants found exclusively in Georgia). Many of these have known uses, particularly medicinal.
There are many alpine species, so climate change is a concern since they are likely to be at particular risk from rising temperatures. Other significant threats come from human activity; land clearance for logging and development, grazing and the collection of economic plants.
Environment and climate
Georgia lies at the centre of the Caucasus region, a biological crossroads where species from Central and Northern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa mingle with plant species found nowhere else. It is characterised by a highly diverse landscape, based on three major mountain chains separated by valleys and plains. As a result of its location, and its physical and climatic diversity, Georgia has a remarkably rich and diverse flora in comparison to other temperate countries. A total of 6,350 species of plants have been recorded in the Caucasus region, and Georgia contains 4,100 of them.
Many plants in Georgia are not found anywhere else in the world. We can attribute this to the particular physical characteristics of the central and eastern parts of the Great Caucasus, and to the ecological and geographical isolation of certain ecosystems. Georgia is home to 256 endemic species (plants found exclusively in Georgia), and 600 more species that are endemic to the Caucasus region.
Saving seeds for the future in Georgia
In 2005 Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnered with the Tbilisi Botanical Garden and Institute of Botany. Since then, the team in Georgia have worked hard to capture the remarkable diversity of their country. Already, seed collections, with associated data and herbarium specimens, have been made from over 600 species, many of them threatened and/or endemic.
In addition to funding fieldwork, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership has developed the skills and facilities of the seed bank team in Tbilisi. Training has been provided in seed collecting, seed processing, germination and data management. Equipment has been provided to improve all aspects of the seed banking process and a database has been established. We are also working together on the propagation of problem species with a long-term view to link the seed bank to in situ conservation and sustainable use of the Georgian flora.
Discover more about our work across Europe...
Our Georgia team
- Clare Trivedi, MSBP International Co-ordinator
Our partners in Georgia
- Tbilisi Botanical Garden and Institute of Botany
Scientific research and data
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