Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership - Malawi
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership is carrying out conservation work in Malawi to save threatened plant life. Collecting and storing seeds in Malawi will help to prevent plant loss in the wild and secure plant diversity for the future.
Expedition in Malawi (Image: RBG Kew)
Our achievements in Malawi
- 1,000 wild species collected and stored at the National Gene Bank
- enabled collaboration, communication and joint activities between 5 institutes involved in the Millennium Seed Bank partnership
- building capacity through delivering formal and informal technical training sessions for scientists in Malawi
Plant life in Malawi is under threat
About 9% of Malawi is protected in the form of national parks and game reserves. Outside these areas deforestation and erosion are extremely serious problems. Malawi's increasing population and its reliance on agriculture mean that natural vegetation outside the protected areas is under great pressure.
Environment and climate
Malawi is botanically diverse, due largely to its great altitudinal range, and variety of habitats.
Most of its 5,500 plant species (including about 115 endemic plants, found exclusively in Malawi) are associated with the wetter areas such as the Nyika and Viphya plateaus, and Mounts Zomba and Mulanje.
Some of the lower lying areas on the Mozambique border in the south receive more than 600 mm of rain each year; however the rest of the country is subject to a prolonged dry season.
Saving seeds for the future in Malawi
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership has been working with partners in Malawi since 2002. We aim to collect about 500 wild species that are threatened, exclusively found in Malawi and of economic value. Seed collections are securely stored in the Malawi Seed Bank and at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, located at Wakehurst Place, West Sussex.
Kew staff are helping to improve Malawi’s seed banking facilities. New equipment has been installed at the National Tree Seed Centre and the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre and staff from Kew staff have provided training on how to use it.
The project has developed ex situ living collections of rare and threatened plants at the National Botanical Gardens, and particular attention has been paid to developing germination and propagation protocols of these important wild species.
Further progress has been made as population data on rare and threatened species has been given to the Malawi conservation authorities. This will enable in situ management of rare and threatened populations to be developed, so that natural resources are sustainably used and better conserved.
Research capacity building activities are underway. For example staff in Malawi are investigating long-term conservation of Widdringtonia whytei, the Mulanje cedar, which is the Malawi national tree. Training activities also include the enrolment of Malawi students for higher degrees both in Malawi and at Kew.
Discover more about our work in Africa...
Our team in Malawi
- Moctar Sacande, MSBP International Co-ordinator
Our partners in Malawi
- The National Tree Seed Centre (NTSC)
- The National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (NPGRC)
- The National Herbarium and Botanical Garden (NHBG)
- The National Research Council of Malawi (NRCM)
- Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust
- DIRECTS partner: Forestry Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM)
Plant stories from Malawi
Scientific Research and Data
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