UK Seed Banking
Capturing, protecting and restoring plant diversity in the UKRead more
This project forms part of Kew's response to the growing need to expand and connect woodland in the UK, increasing the resilience of our woodlands to environmental change and enhancing the carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services they provide.
Unlike most cultivated plants bred for consistency and ease of cultivation, the morphology and germination behaviour of native tree seed is inherently variable. Understanding and predicting this variation will be key to designing efficient production processes to improve germinability, reduce waste and make a wider range of seed available. Furthermore, as the climate warms the germination requirements for some species and/or populations may no longer be met, with profound consequences for the long-term regeneration of woodlands and the diversity of ecosystem services they support.
Work Package 1 - Led by a cross-departmental team at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, will investigate morphological and germination traits in native trees of production importance, exploring how these vary between populations across the UK. Germination requirements will be modelled against climate change scenarios, supporting adaptive ‘climate-smart’ seed sourcing and the production of climate-resilient planting stock.
Work Package 2 - Led by Elsoms Seeds and Elsoms Trees, will develop the use of high throughput sorting techniques to improve the quality and germinability of commercial tree seed batches. Using trait measurements provided by Kew, it will assess how different combinations of trait parameters can be used to identify and separate non-viable and/or less vigorous seed. It will validate the impacts of selective screening on the germination and vigour of seed batches and consider effects this may have on seedling production, for example through faster or more synchronous germination.
Work Package 3 - An outreach programme delivered by all project partners, will ensure the knowledge, technical expertise and practical experience developed during the project is shared through a range of published outputs, workshops and direct contacts with stakeholders in the tree production industry and woodland research, conservation and restoration community.
The project is funded by the Forestry Commission via the Tree Production Innovation Fund.