Australian Seed Bank Partnership
Enhancing the conservation of Australia’s flora
Australia is one of only eighteen 'mega diverse’ countries as identified by the United Nations and its native biodiversity is of global significance. The total number of Australian species comprises 15% of the world's total with a high proportion of these being endemic to the continent. However, threatened by massive land clearance since European settlement, significant problems from invasive species, increasingly aggressive pests and pathogens and with serious implications from a changing climate, 23% of Australian floral species are listed as under threat of extinction at the national and sub-national levels.
Australia is truly a land of contrasts. The extreme dryland of the "Red Centre" is a world away from the wet tropical forests of Northern Queensland and the alpine zones of the Snowy Mountains. This ancient landscape, having escaped the recent glacial ages, displays a mosaic of vegetation and habitats all very different from each other and has given rise to high levels of endemism across the continent. This is especially so in the South Western part of Western Australia, well known as a plant biodiversity hotspot of global significance.
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership has worked with Australia since 2000, initially with individual seed banks and conservation organisations across the continent, before the Australian Seed Bank Partnership (ASBP) was officially formed in 2011. The ASBP is now an alliance of 12 organisations working together to conserve Australia’s native plant diversity through collaborative and sustainable seed collecting, banking, research, and knowledge sharing.
Scientists from Kew’s MSBP are sharing their expertise with members of the ASBP in the six States and the two territories on seed collection processes, conservation, and research. The overall priority is to bank plant species considered rare or threatened to dramatically enhance the conservation of the Australian flora.
Since the start of the collaboration, Australia has contributed over 11,000 seed collections to the MSB, representing over 8,700 taxa.
- Building a network of seed banks across Australia’s states and territories to coordinate seed conservation related activities
- Collect and conserve seeds of wild species of plants, mainly focusing on plants that are endemic, endangered, and economically or functionally important
- Deliver research and share knowledge to improve outcomes for Australia’s native flora
- Train the next generation of plant scientists, horticulturalist, and conservationists to ensure a lasting legacy of scientific research and biodiversity conservation in the region into the future
- Australian Seed Bank Partnership
- Australian National Botanic Gardens
- Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust
- George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens
- Brisbane Botanic Gardens
- Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium of South Australia
- Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens
- Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria
- Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)
- Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, Kings Park
Several projects have been undertaken as a result of Kew’s collaboration with ASBP.
- C4: collecting plants that use C4 photosynthetic pathways, along with C3 sister species, to increase the provision of material for research into the genes and proteins resulting in C4 pathways.
- 1000 species: collecting and storing seed from 1000 native plant species which are valued for their endemic, endangered, or economic significance and which are not currently secured in Australia’s conservation seed banks. Target species include plants of value for food security (e.g. crop wild relatives), horticulture (e.g. new ornamental species), industry (e.g. pharmaceutically active species) and habitat restoration.