Alpine seed conservation and research network

Conserving more than 500 species from the European Alps by collecting seeds and storing them ex situ in seed banks.

Mountains covered in snow

The Alpine Seed Conservation and Research Network is part of the wider Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, initiated and run by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (United Kingdom). The network brings together partners from five plant science institutions housed at leading universities and botanic gardens across the Alps to deliver an integrated programme of conservation and research for alpine flora.

With climate change and habitat destruction threatening alpine flora in Europe, this project aims to improve the conservation status of grassland communities and their constituent species in the high-montane, alpine and nival altitudinal belts. This will be achieved through ex situ seed storage, making high quality material available for conservation, research and restoration. We are undertaking research to better understand the potential of alpine species to adapt to new environmental conditions and the impacts that environmental change has already had on populations.

Improved knowledge of the ecology of target species will further aid in situ conservation efforts. By developing a network for seed conservation and research in the European Alps we will foster collaboration, development of new scientists, and the expansion of knowledge on key ecological species in the European Alps. In addition, public awareness of value and vulnerability of the local flora will be a priority.


•    Urgent ex-situ conservation of the region’s most endangered alpine community species
•    Dissemination of research on these species to aid conservation and restoration activities
•    Development of a conservation network to foster long-term co-operation and collaboration

Logo for Alpine project
Project lead

Dr Aisyah Faruk


Dr Elinor Breman

•    Seed collection from (semi-) natural grassland communities in the high-montane, alpine and nival altitudinal belts and adjacent, directly connected specialist communities
•    Ex situ conservation of 500 species of high conservation value
•    Fieldwork combined with informal and formal learning opportunities by bringing partners together from across the network
•    Training and development of early career seed specialists in the region
•    Research via co-supervised MSc and PhD students to establish the optimum germination and propagation procedures for important plant families (e.g. Saxifragaceae, Orchidaceae, Poaceae, Gentianaceae, Campanulaceae)
•    Research to model how species will adapt to differing climate patterns and how alpine species will compete with encroaching sub-alpine species, and to investigate comparative germination and longevity studies
•    Network of plant science and conservation organisations with an interest in the Alpine flora
•    Education and engagement via living collection displays, publications and engagement with local schools to increase public understanding of the threats to alpine plants and the importance of their conservation


Dr Christian Berg and Patrick Schwager – The University of Graz
Dr Brigitta Erschbamer, Dr Konrad Pagitz and Vera Margreiter – The Institute of Botany, University of Innsbruck


Noémie Fort and Léa Bizard– The Conservatoire Botanique National Alpin


Prof. Graziano Rossi, Dr Andrea Mondoni, Dr Thomas Abeli and Francesco Porro - The Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e dell’Ambiente, University of Pavia


Dr Catherine Lambelet and Jacqueline Détraz-Méroz - The Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Geneve

David and Claudia Harding Foundation 

Müller, J.V., Berg, C., Détraz-Méroz, J., Fort, N., Lambelet-Haueter, C., Margreiter, V., Mombrial, F., Mondoni, A., Pagitz, K., Porro, F., Rossi, G., Schwager, P., Breman, E. (2017)

The Alpine Seed Conservation and Research Network – a new initiative to conserve valuable plant species in the European Alps.

Journal of Mountain Science 14: 806-810