UK Seed Banking

Capturing, protecting and restoring plant diversity in the UK, expanding the national repository for native seeds and making our collections, data and expertise available to support research and conservation initiatives.

Purple wildflowers and bees

Since the mid-20th century, species-rich habitats in the UK have been destroyed or degraded at an alarming rate. Many surviving patches of habitat are unsustainably small and fragmented, vulnerable to further degradation in the face of a changing climate and ever-growing demands on the natural environment. Many species, particularly trees, are under significant threat from new pest and disease outbreaks. 

In the ground-breaking report Making Space for Nature, Sir John Lawton and colleagues (2010) set out an ambitious new strategy for UK conservation – to rebuild nature on a landscape scale, creating resilient and coherent ecological networks to expand and link existing habitats with buffer zones, wildlife corridors and areas of active restoration and habitat creation. This approach has been endorsed in the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan, which sets out ambitious commitments to increase the scale of activity over the coming decades, underpinned by robust evidence and specialist advice. 

The Millennium Seed Bank (MSB)'s UK Programme seeks to support this ambition through the collection and provision of native plant material, data and expertise to support research, conservation and restoration initiatives. 98% of the UK’s orthodox, seed-bearing native flora is represented in the MSB, including multi-population, genetically representative collections of over 70 native trees and shrubs. We continue to build these collections through our UK Threatened Flora Project and UK Ash Collecting Project, and to make seed and other native plant materials available via our UK Native Seed Hub Project. We also provide specialist advice and applied research to through the UK Native Seed Hub and participation in partnership projects like the Living Ash Project.  

We work with a wide range of partners across the UK, including specialist botanists and seed collectors, government agencies, local authorities, conservation organisations, ecological consultants and commercial companies. We share scientific, technical and practical skills through training, publications and participation in conferences and events to promote the effective collection, conservation and use of native seed in the UK. 


  • Build comprehensive, genetically representative seed collections from the UK’s flora and ensure that these are accessible to users. 
  • Provide specialist advice, training and technical expertise on collecting, storing, producing and using UK native seed. 
  • Undertake research to understand and overcome constraints to the collection, storage and use of native plant materials and facilitate their use in research and biodiversity conservation initiatives.
  • 360 new collections of priority threatened species (UK Threatened Flora Project) 
  • Plant information sheets, including detailed germination and propagation protocols, produced for 12 threatened species. (UK Threatened Flora Project) 
  • 70 new collections of seed, tissue samples and data from female ash trees showing tolerance to ash dieback disease, with tissue samples and data from 70 male trees. (UK Ash Collecting Project) 
  • Techniques for the vegetative propagation of disease-tolerant ash trees are investigated and published. (Living Ash Project) 
  • Provide seed, plants, advice or technical assistance to at least ten partner or client organisations each year. (UK Native Seed Hub) 

Enhanced Partnerships

Project Leader 

Ted Chapman – UK Conservation Partnerships Coordinator  


Stephanie Miles – UK Collections Coordinator 
Christopher Cockel – UK Native Seed Hub Coordinator 
Jennifer Peach – UK Threatened Flora Project Officer 
Owen Blake – UK Ash Collecting Project Officer 
Alice Livingstone – Botanical Propagator 


We work with over 60 partners from all over the UK. These partners range from national statutory agencies such as Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Nature Scotland and the Forestry Commission, to large conservation organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust, Plantlife and the Woodland Trust, through to other botanic gardens and a range of small local conservation groups. 

  • Players of People’s Postcode Lottery
  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Esmee Fairbain foudation logo
  • The John Coates Charitable Trust 
  • Banister Charitable Trust 
  • John S Cohen Foundation 
  • Mackintosh Foundation 
  • Ennismore Foundation 
  • Wixamtree Trust 

@Kew_MSBUK on Twitter  

Chapman, T., Miles, S., & Trivedi, C., (2019)

Capturing, protecting and restoring plant diversity in the UK: RBG Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank.

Plant Diversity, 41: 124-131. 

Peach, J., Davies, R., Walmisley, J. & Chapman, T. (2017)

An Assessment of Seed Viability, Germination and Vegetative Propagation Requirements for Nuphar pumila.

Natural England Commissioned Report, Number 244. York. 

Trivedi, C., Cavers, S., Atkinson, N., Clark, C. & Cottrell, J. (2018).

A strategy for UK Forest Genetic Resources: protecting the UK’s unique diversity of trees and shrubs.

RBG Kew. 

Gargiulo, R., Saubin, M., Rizzuto, G., West, B., Fay, M.F., Kallow, S. & Trivedi, C. (2019)

Genetic diversity in British populations of Taxus baccata L.: Is the seedbank collection representative of the genetic variation in the wild?

Biological Conservation, 233: 289-297. 

Davies, R., Hudson, A., Dickie, J., Cook, C., O'Hara, T., & Trivedi, C. (2020)

Exploring seed longevity of UK native trees: implications for ex situ conservation.

Seed Science Research, 30: 1-11.