Banking the UK's seeds
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UK Native Seed Hub

The UK Native Seed Hub (UKNSH) was launched in 2011. It's purpose is to mobilise RBG Kew's seed collections, facilities and expertise to enhance the resilience and coherence of the UK's ecological network by increasing the quality, quantity and diversity of native plants and seeds available for conservation and habitat restoration.

Project details

Project Department: 
Project Leader: 
Funded By: 
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Objectives and outputs

Background

Since the mid-twentieth century, species-rich habitats in the UK have been destroyed or degraded at an alarming rate. In some cases the losses have been catastrophic: over 97% of lowland grassland in England and Wales has been lost in the last 75 years. This has had profound consequences for biodiversity and the ability of ecosystems to sustain services essential for human well-being and prosperity. Surviving patches of habitat are often unsustainably small and fragmented, vulnerable to further degradation in the face of a changing climate and ever-growing demands on the natural environment.

In the ground-breaking report, Making Space for Nature (2010), Sir John Lawton and colleagues set out an ambitious new strategy for conservation - to rebuild nature on a landscape scale, creating coherent and resilient ecological networks to expand and link existing habitats with buffer zones, wildlife corridors and areas of active restoration and habitat creation. 

The UK Native Seed Hub is RBG Kew's response to this challenge, using our unique resources and expertise in support of Sir John's vision of a landscape where 'biodiversity is enhanced and the diversity, functioning and resilience of ecosystems re-established'.

Project Purpose

To enhance the resilience and coherence of the UK's ecological network by increasing the quality, quantity and diversity of native plants and seeds available for conservation and habitat restoration. 

Project Outputs

- Provide seed and plants for direct use in conservation projects, focussing on specific-origin, rare or highly-specialised material which is not otherwise available to UK practitioners.

- Provide scientific advice and technical services to help conservation organisations and the native seed industry overcome constraints to improving seed quality and making a wider range of species and specific-origin material available.

- Build awareness and demand for high quality, native-origin plant materials, engaging with all those involved in the specification, procurement, regulation and use of native seed and plants.

Partners and collaborators

This is an inter-departmental project with a strong contribution from Wakehurst horticultural staff including Jo Wenham and Iain Parkinson.

The UK Native Seed Hub works with a wide range of clients and partners including the following:  

Natural England, Plantlife, National Trust, Species Recovery Trust, Toyota Motors UK, Brighton and Hove City Council, SE Water, Toyota GB, Weald and Downland Museum, South Downs National Park, South Downs Nature Improvement Area, North Pennines AONB, Highgrove House, South Gloucestershire Council, RSK, Devon Wildlife Trust, True Harvest Seed, Steyning Downs Society, Sussex Wildlife Trust,  URS Infrastructure and Environment, Angela Marmont Centre NHM, Dorothy Stringer School, Greengage Ecology.  

Publications

Chapman, T., Miles, S., & Trivedi, C. (2018) Capturing, protecting and restoring plant diversity in the UK: RBG Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank. Plant Diversity 40. Available online

Peach, J., Davies, R., Walmisley, J. & Chapman, T. (2017) An assessment of seed viability, germination and vegetative propagation requirements for least water-lily (Nuphar pumila). Natural England Report NECR244. Available online