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what is a seed bank

What is a seed bank

When most people think about banks and saving for the future they think of finances. But if the future is going to be as rich as we are today, we need to broaden our horizons, and consider saving for the future in a whole new light. The Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) is doing just that.

The rate of their impact is also increasing, leading to an ever greater risk of an incremental and catastrophic loss.
Citizen science project officer

A seed bank is a vault kept at low humidity and cold conditions, around -20°C. In these vaults are jars filled with seeds from different plant species. Numbers and amounts vary from one seed bank to another. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the world’s largest seed bank project – at the time of writing the MSB held 2,200,964,170 seeds from 37,614 species, collected from 189 countries!
Credit: Kew Gardens

  • habitat loss
  • climate change
  • pollution
  • pests and diseases.

Many different projects contribute to the seed bank and we are one of the partners contributing to the UK National Tree Seed Project. This project was set up by Kew to protect our native tree species from extinction, and is generously funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and supported by volunteers.
Think of a seed bank as a form of insurance, a way of maximising the number of plant species we can save from extinction. This is more essential now than ever before. Globally it’s estimated that one in five plant species are threatened with extinction.

Plants are under threat from many factors:

Think of the seed bank as a form of insurance policy. It stores the genetics of our crops, plants and trees and safeguards them from extinction.