UK National Tree Seed Project

Ensuring that high quality, genetically diverse seed and associated data from UK trees and shrubs are available to support conservation and research.

Lucombe oak
Project summary Plus


Over recent decades there has been a dramatic increase in the number of novel pests and diseases attacking trees in the UK. Furthermore, changing temperatures and more extreme weather events mean that woodlands are subject to risks from changing phenology, drought, fire, and invasive species. It is in this context that Kew launched the UK National Tree Seed Project (UKNTSP) in 2013.

The project is collecting and storing seed from native trees and shrubs throughout the UK. Multiple collections are being made, right across the native range of each species, in order to develop genetically representative collections in the MSB. Already over 10 million seed have been successfully stored. For most of these collections each mother tree is georeferenced, and their seed is stored separately.

The project is also undertaking research to deliver better understanding of the population genetics of UK trees and shrubs, and how to optimise their seed storage and germination procedures.  

High quality seed collections stored in the MSB can be kept alive for many decades. This means that seeds collected as part of this project will be a resource for future generations. The collections and associated data are being made available for research and conservation, providing a resource for those addressing the threats and challenges faced by UK trees and woodlands.

Project Purpose

To provide a national repository of plant material and associated knowledge, for the purposes of long term conservation, and to make these resources available to users, in order to better understand and manage tree and shrub species in the UK landscape.

Project team Plus
Outputs Plus
  • Establishment of an accessible, genetically representative, national seed collection of UK trees and shrubs.
  • Research to understand and overcome constraints to the ex situ conservation and use of UK tree species.
  • To raise public awareness of the project, and the role of ex situ conservation in general, to meet the challenges facing the conservation and management of UK trees, woods and forests.
Partners and collaborators Plus

Abraichan Forest Trust, Assynt Field Club, Borders Forest Trust, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Community Tree Trust, The Conservation Foundation, Cree Valley Community Woodland Trust, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, Eden Project, Essex Wildlife Trust, Falkland Stewardship Trust, Forest Research, Forestry Commission Scotland, Friends of Abernethy, Gwent Wildlife Trust, John Muir Trust, Kendal Conservation volunteers, Kilfinan Community Forest, Kyleakin Environment Group, Montgomershire Wildlife Trust, National Botanic Gardens Wales, National Trust Scotland, North Harris Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, Trees for Life, True Harvest, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust.

Funded by Plus

The UK National Tree Seed Project has been made possible thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Funding has also been provided by John Coates Foundation and Steele Foundation.

Selected publications Plus

Kallow, S., Trivedi, C. (2017) 

Collecting genetic variation on a small island

In: Sniezko, R.A., Man, G., Hipkins, V., Woeste, K., Gwaze, D., Kliejunas, J.T. & McTeague, B.A. tech. cords. 2017. Gene conservation of tree species—banking on the future. Proceedings of a workshop. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-963. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 129-136

Trivedi, C. & Kallow, S. (2017) 

Benefits and challenges for gene conservation: a view from the UK national tree seed project

In: Sniezko, R. A., Man, G., Hipkins, V., Woeste, K., Gwaze, D., Kliejunas, J.T. & McTeague, B.A., tech. cords. 2017. Gene conservation of tree species — banking on the future. Proceedings of a workshop. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-963. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 44-47

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