Banking the world’s seeds

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership safeguards wild plant diversity and enables its sustainable utilisation through global partnership.

Seeds in sub-zero storage facilities at Millennium Seed Bank

Dr Elinor Breman


Enhanced Partnerships

For opportunities to fund and support this work, please contact us.

Kew’s global seed banking network, the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP), is the largest ex situ plant conservation programme in the world.

Our focus is on plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future.

The most recent State of the World's Plants Report highlighted that 2 in 5 plant species are threatened with extinction. The seeds we save are conserved in seed banks as an insurance against the risk of extinction in their native habitat. 

Working with our network of partners across 100 countries and overseas territories, we have successfully banked approximately 15.6% of the world's wild plant species. 

Collections are preserved at the Wellcome Trust Millennium Building at Wakehurst and around the world in our partner seed banks.

The collections and the vital associated knowledge enable innovation, adaptation and resilience in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and habitat restoration.

The published MSBP Seed Conservation Standards provide a basis for technology transfer amongst partners and help to assure users of the quality of the seed collections.


Through the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, we aim to achieve the following: 

  • Conservation of threatened, range restricted and useful plants 
  • Expansion of the network of countries and partners working under common seed conservation standards to increase the quality and genetic diversity of collections. 
  • Strengthen the seed collections of the UK flora, with a focus on multi-provenance collections of woody species and the threatened flora.   
  • Research the different strategies needed to sample genetic diversity, and conserve seeds that cannot withstand desiccation and freezing. 
  • Track progress of global seed conservation towards banking 25% of the world’s plant species; this equates to approximately 75,000 species. 

Examples of major programmes of work that are contributing to these objectives are: 

The Garfield Weston Global Tree Seed Bank Programme: to conserve 3,000 of the rarest, most threatened and useful trees and woody shrubs, and to undertake several research programmes to improve our knowledge of tree conservation. 

The Arcadia Threatened Biodiversity Hotspot Programme: to secure over 5,000 species from five threatened global biodiversity hotspots 

The Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change Project: to collect and conserve seed from more than 350 species of Crop Wild Relatives, facilitating their use in breeding new and improved crops better adapted to climate change. 

The targets of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership help to achieve Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, one of the Cross-Cutting Issues of the Convention on Biological Diversity. They also contribute towards Targets 2, 13 and 15 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


Adapting agriculture to climate change
Threatened Biodiversity Hotspots programme
Data Warehouse 
Global Tree Seed Bank programme


Afromontane Plant Conservation 
Conserving Ghana’s Threatened and Economically Important Trees 
Conserving the Endemic Flora of Ethiopia 
Developing a National Seed Collection Programme for Zambia 
Developing the National Seed Collection of South Africa
Rescuing degraded habitats and threatened species of Namibia
The National Seed Conservation Programme, Mozambique
Tropical Important Plant Areas in Cameroon
Tropical Important Plant Areas in Guinea-Conakry


Colombia Bio
Colombia tropical dry forest
Conserving seed from the rare and endangered flora of the USA
Enhancing conservation and access to medicinal plants in Peru
Mexican Newton Project
Mexico Sonora
Saving the threatened forests of Hispanioala in the Dominican Republic
Science-based conservation of tree species in Mexico


Bunchy top virus mitigation: screening wild bananas for resistance
Banking the flora of Kyrgyzstan
Conserving Threatened Biodiversity Hotspots of Thailand and Indonesia
Global Tree Seed Bank of Bhutan, Indonesia and Thailand 
Medicinal and aromatic plants of Pakistan 
Unlocking the potential of Seasonal Forests to underpin Wallacea’s green economy


Australian Seed Bank Partnership


Enhancing rural Caucasian livelihoods through fruit and nut conservation
Global Tree Seed Bank of the Caucasus
Threatened Biodiversity Hotspots in the Caucasus


Alpine seed conservation and research network
Conserving the endemic flora of the Carpathian region
ENSCONET Consortium


Banking the UK’s Seed
Living Ash project
UK Ash Collecting project
UK Native Seed Hub
UK Threatened Flora
UK National Tree Seed project
Native Seeds for Restoration: diversity and resilience in the UK


Identifying and conserving resilient habitats in the British Virgin Islands
Tropical Important Plant Areas in the British Virgin Islands

Di Sacco, A., Hardwick, K.A., Blakesley, D., Brancalion, P.H.S., Breman, E., Cecilio Rebola, L., Chomba, S., Dixon, K., Elliott, S., Ruyonga, G., Shaw, K., Smith, P., Smith, R.J., Antonelli, A. (2021)

Ten golden rules for reforestation to optimize carbon sequestration, biodiversity recovery and livelihood benefits.

Global Change Biology 27: 13281348.

Pearce, T.R., Antonelli, A., Brearley, F.Q., Couch, C., Campostrini Forzza, R., Gonçalves, S.C., Magassouba, S., Morim, M.P., Mueller, G.M., Nic Lughadha, E., Obreza, M., Sharrock, S., Simmonds, M.S.J., Bonglim Tambam, B., Utteridge, T.M.A. & Breman, E. (2020)

International collaboration between collections-based institutes for halting biodiversity loss and unlocking the useful properties of plants and fungi.

Plants People Planet 2: 515534.

Kildisheva, O.A., Dixon, K.W., Silveira, A.O., Chapman, T., Di Sacco, A., Mondoni, A., Turner, S.R. & Cross, A.T. (2020)

Dormancy and germination: making every seed count in restoration. 

Restoration Ecology 28: 256265

Liu, U., Cossu, T.A., Davies, R.M., Forest, F., Dickie, J.B. & Breman, E. (2020)

Conserving orthodox seeds of globally threatened plants ex situ in the Millennium Seed Bank, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK: the status of seed collections.

Biodiversity and Conservation 29: 2901–2949

Breman, E., Détraz-Méroz, J., Terry, J. & Lambelet, C. (2019)

Ex situ conservation storage potential of Saxifraga (Saxifragaceae) bulbils from alpine species.

Biologia 74: 1621–1625

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

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

Plant Diversity 41: 124131.

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 223: 289297.  

Liu, U., Kenny, S., Breman, E., Cossu, T.A. (2019)

A multicriteria decision making approach to prioritise vascular plants for species-based conservation.

Biodiversity and Conservation 234: 221240. 

Mattana, E., Peguero, P., Di Sacco, A., Agramonte, W., Castillo, W.R.E., Jiménez, F., Clase, T., Pritchard, H.W., Gómez-Barreiro, P., Castillo-Lorenzo, E., Encarnación, M.T., Way, M.J., García, R. & Ulian, T. (2019)

Assessing seed desiccation responses of native trees in the Caribbean.

New Forests 51: 705721. 

Skelton, A., Buxton-Kirk, A., Fowkes, A., Harju, V., Forde, S., Ward, R., Frew, L., Wagstaff, O., Pearce, T.R., Terry, J., Dickie, J., Cockel, C., Nyamongo, D.O., Aboagye, L.M., Wasswa, J.M. & Fox, A. (2019) 

Potato spindle tuber viroid detected in seed of uncultivated Solanum anguivi, S. coagulans and S. dasyphyllum collected from Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. 

New Disease Reports 39: 23. 

Ulian, T., Pritchard, H.W., Cockel, C.P., & Mattana, E. (2019)

Enhancing food security through seed banking and use of wild plants: case studies from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

Encyclopedia of Food Security and Sustainability 3: 3238. 

Liu, U., Breman, E., Cossu, T.A. & Kenney, S. (2018)

The conservation value of germplasm stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK.

Biodiversity and Conservation 27: 13471386.

Seeds are available for distribution to bona fide users, view the MSB Seed List. There are also a number of different MSBP resources for use by our partners and other parties including: 

  • Seed bank data exchange
  • Technical information sheets
  • Seed conservation standards 
  • Field manuals

See our MSB Partnership Data Warehouse Resources page to view what is available.

Samara newsletter

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership newsletter, Samara, is published twice annually. It contains interesting stories and experiences from our partners across the globe. Read the latest issues of Issues of Samara.

Seed Collection

Find out more about our Seed Collection.