How the Nematolepis wilsonii of Australia regained its shine
One fateful Saturday in February 2009, a series of bushfires swept through the Australian state of Victoria. The rest of this tragic story is well known: 173 people killed, 2,000 homes destroyed and nearly half a million hectares devastated. Thanks to modern media, the entire world watched as Australia burned.
A less publicised tragedy was the loss of the wild shrub Nematolepis wilsonii. Its only known habitat had been a mountainside 80 km west of Melbourne – now left bleak, blackened and barren by the inferno. The ‘shining nematolepis’, with its star-shaped white flowers, was extinct.
Yet this particular sad tale has a happy ending. Just weeks before the fire, a team from the Royal Botanic Gardens of Melbourne, supported by Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, had collected seeds from the mountainside. Now over 150 plants, grown locally from the collected seeds, are flourishing in a safe, new home. One day they will help to restore the site where their parents once shone so brightly.
The Breathing Planet Campaign will provide many other restoration ecology stories with happy endings.
Kew seeks to raise £100 million
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