Global Tree Seed Bank of the Caucasus

Conserving the native tree flora of the Caucasus through seed collection and research into species germination requirements

Rocky dry landscape in Armenia

The region of the Caucasus is located between the Black and Caspian seas, and encompasses either all or parts of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia and Iran. The Caucasus has a huge tapestry of different habitats, from alpine mountains to temperate and sub-tropical forests, resulting in a fascinating mix of plants and animal species. Internationally, the region is recognised as one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots, and with over 25% of its 6,400 plant species known as endemic, the Caucasus also has the highest level of endemism in the temperate world. 

Generously funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Global Tree Seed Bank programme focuses on collecting and safeguarding some of the worlds rare, threatened and/or highly useful tree and woody herbaceous plant species. The collecting phase of this project in the Caucasus is now complete and together with partners we have successfully banked seed collections from 229 species over the past four years.   

Final steps are now being taken at the MSB and at partner organisations to produce germination protocols for species collected during the project. Germination of tree seeds can take several years, and so patience will be essential when completing the final phase of the Global Tree Seed Bank Project in the Caucasus region. 


  • Collect and Seed Bank 200 priority tree species from the Caucasus region. 
  • Assess conservation status and develop in-situ conservation methods for two rare woody species


In Georgia seed collections of 121 species have been conserved. Of note are three seed collections from the beautifully allusive Colchian hazel (Corylus colchica), which is only found in small and fragmented populations in certain regions of the country. Very little is known about this species, and indeed, many other species which have been collected as part of this project. The collections and subsequent data made during this project have the potential of increasing our understanding of vulnerable tree species in Georgia. In 2019, partners received training which will allow them to conserve species known to produce short-lived seed, a capability that will overcome constraints to banking seed from previously uncollected tree species.  

In Armenia, trees still hold some strong importance in certain areas, either as sacred trees that people believe hold their power even after death, to wishing trees, where local people tie handkerchiefs to ensure that their wishes may come true. Therefore, there is no doubt of the importance of this project to our Armenian partners. Partners successfully collected and seed banked 61 species. Additionally, the MSB supported the redevelopment of additional seed processing facilities within the Seed Bank of Armenian Flora (SBAF) to increase the capacity for plant conservation within Armenia.  

In Azerbaijan partners collected and conserved 47 species of rare and threatened tree species. The MSB has worked with partners at the Institute of Botany and the Central Botanic Garden of Azerbaijan to update location and population sizes for these species, as some historical records go back many decades. 

  • National Botanic Gardens of Georgia 
  • Institute of Botany, Ilia University Georgia 
  • Institute of Botany of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia 
  • Armenia Botanical Society NGO 
  • Genetic Research Institute of the National Academy of Sciences Azerbaijan 
  • Institute of Botany of the National Academy of Sciences Azerbaijan