Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership – Kenya
Many populations, particularly in Africa continue to have a strong dependancy on plants for food, medicine and a host of other uses. Working with farmers groups, community-led nurseries and government agencies, the Millennium Seed Bank has been working in Kenya to collect, conserve and use seed from a wide range of "useful" and threatened species.
The MSB's Kate Gold with a training group in Kenya (Image: RBG Kew)
Our achievements in Kenya
- several plant species new to science have been collected, described and banked for the first time in Kenya
- collaboration between local foresters, agriculturalists and botanists has become a reality
- demonstration plantings have resulted in the rehabilitation of degraded sites in the arid districts of Makueni, Mbeere and West Pokot
Plant life in Kenya is under threat
Kenya is a land of contrasts. It has an estimated 7500 plant species from some of the most inhospitable drylands on earth, from moist tropical lowland forests and high altitude equatorial mountains.
Some 1,100 plant species in Kenya are endemic (found exclusively in Kenya) and whilst there is currently no published inventory of threatened plant taxa for the country, most botanists recognise a growing number of species in need of special protection.
The local demand for plant-based products that humans depend on for food, medicine, fuel and building materials increases as population increases. Land that is being cleared for settlement and farming is threatening the wild flora. In addition, exotic crop species continue to replace indigenous crops.
By including plant species that are of greatest use to man in the seed collection programme we can help protect both precious human and plant life.
Environment and climate
Kenya's land area consists of about 80% arid and semi-arid lands and conservation of plants from these very dry areas has been the focus of the seed conservation programme.
Such areas are classified as having a moderate to severe lack of water which is a challenge to plant survival. More recently, a focused effort to secure seed from high altitude species threatened from a changing climate.
Saving seeds for the future in Kenya
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership is working with a consortium of 5 institutions in Kenya under a collective programme known as "Seeds for Life".
One of the main aims of the project is to help partners in Kenya to strengthen and develop their conservation facilities. Scientists from Kew's Millennium Seed Bank are sharing their expertise in all aspects of seed conservation from collecting in the field to seed storage and germination of collections through both local and Kew-based training.
Laboratory equipment and vehicles are being supplied and species targeting guides have been completed to help seed collecting expeditions focus on the high priority plant groups. An important aspect of the project is the work being done with farmers groups.
Discover more about our work in Africa...
Our team in Kenya
- Tim Pearce, MSBP International Co-ordinator
Our partners in Kenya
- National Museums of Kenya
- Kenya Agricultural Research Institute represented by the National Genebank of Kenya
- Kenya Forestry Research Institute represented by Kenya Forestry Seed Centre
- Kenya Forest Service
- Kenya Wildlife Service
Plant stories from Kenya
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