The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest international plant conservation project in the world. Its aim is to safeguard as many as possible of the planet’s plant species by saving their seeds for the future. The current goal is to bank seeds from 25% (approximately 75,000) of the world’s plant species by 2020.
The Seed Bank is housed by Kew Gardens in the UK in a highly-specialised facility, at both very low temperature (- 20°C) and humidity. Seed can potentially remain viable for hundreds of years under these conditions.
Seed Bank Partners so far are from more than 50 countries, including South Africa’s SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) which has been involved almost from the start.
SANBI has asked Hermanus Botanical Society to help with this project by collecting seed from plants in Fernkloof that has not yet been banked. Current emphasis is on plants that appear infrequently only after a fire (the Fernkloof one of December 2015) – while there is still the opportunity – but collections are also being made more widely in the reserve.
So if you wonder why you have seen a plant with a colourful string attached, or its head in a piece of old stocking, this is probably why!
For more information visit www.kew.org
Article by Jane Crawford Images: Sandy Jenkin, Christine Wakfer and Margaret Stanway