Global Tree Seed Bank Programme: Indonesia
Conserving Indonesia’s native tree flora via a programme of seed collection, extinction assessment and research into the role ex-situ conservation can play in forest restoration programmes.
Indonesia is one of the megadiverse countries of the world, encompassing two biodiversity hotspots (Sundaland and Wallacea) and one tropical forest wilderness (the island of New Guinea) and has been described as “a key country in the increasing global efforts to preserve genetic, species and ecosystem diversity” (de Haes, C., 1992). Its extraordinary biodiversity is partly due to its unusual geological position at the meeting point between three major tectonic plates – the Eurasian, the Filipino and the Australian. It is an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, and this geographical factor has contributed to an exceptionally high level of species endemism – that is, species found nowhere else on Earth. However, Indonesia’s huge population growth and rapid economic development have put this biodiversity at great risk, leading to a vast expansion of agriculture, plantations and timber and mineral extraction, resulting in a net loss of 684,000 ha/year of forest area between 2010 and 2015, second only to Brazil (FAO, 2015). Burning of land, especially for rice production and new rubber and oil palm plantations, has led to widespread fires.
Indonesia is addressing these risks through an ambitious integrated programme of in situ and ex situ conservation, which includes a network of protected areas covering over 2 million hectares and a new national seed bank at the Research Center for Plant Conservation and Botanic Gardens. In 2017, Kew began working with the Research Center for Plant Conservation and Botanic Gardens alongside a network of national botanic gardens within the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI). Together with these partner organisations Kew will work to successfully deliver the Global Tree Seed Bank Programme.
The Global Tree Seed Bank Programme aims to secure some of the most threatened, rare, and useful tree species in the world. Funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation, the programme has collected over 3000 species and aims to collect a further 2000 species in its current phase. In Indonesia, the project will collect and conserve seeds of at least 136 native Indonesian tree and shrub species. As part of the project, researchers in Indonesia will identify framework species suitable for use in forest restoration and a PhD student will examine the role of seed conservation and habitat restoration in lowering the extinction risk for endemic tree species.
The project is led by Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership and together with the “Threatened Biodiversity Hotspots Programme” marks the initial phase of the Indonesian Seed Bank Programme, which aims to develop a national seed conservation programme for Indonesia. This initial phase will focus on plant conservation in parts of the Sundaland Biodiversity Hotspot (Sumatra, Java and Bali) and will be delivered through seed collecting and research sub-projects overseen by CPCBG. This programme, will in turn, contribute to a global programme of ex situ plant conservation delivered by the network of seed banks in the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.
de Haes, C., 1992. Foreword. In, Wild Indonesia, by T. Whitten & J. Whitten. New Holland, London.
FAO, 2015. Forest Global Resources Assessment 2015.
- Seed collections: Seeds of 136 woody species will be banked, of which 100 will be new to the Global Tree Seed Bank Programme.
- Data Management: Field and processing data on all collections shared via the MSBP’s Data Warehouse.
- Conservation assessments: 50 plant conservation assessments on the tree flora of Indonesia published.
- Research: PhD thesis on the role of ex situ conservation and habitat restoration in mitigating the extinction risk of the Indonesian endemic tree flora, co-supervised by Kew.
- Research: Long-term restoration trials will be established to study the use of Indonesian native species in forest restoration, and a research paper published.
Research Center for Plant Conservation and Botanic Gardens, part of the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI)