The need for a seedbank
The prime focus for biodiversity conservation is always the maintenance of wild ecosystems and their species (in situ conservation). Ex-situ conservation can, however, contribute to securing species from extinction.
181 of New Zealand's described seed bearing plants are acutely threatened with extinction. A further 100 or so are chronically threatened and approximately 500 are naturally uncommmon and therefore at risk. In situ conservation programmes are underway for some, but not all of these taxa.
A long term seed storage facility can provide long term insurance against the loss of these species from the wild. For more information about seed banks read the Network's original proposal for a New Zealand's threatened plant seed bank (pdf file size 381K)
How do seed banks work?
Long term seed storage facilities take advantage of the fact that many seed bearing plants have desiccation tolerant seeds. Upon arrival at the seed bank, seed is cleaned and dried. It is then stored at low temperatures. Many species are expected to have seed that will remain viable in storage for at least 200 years. A database is used to keep track of what seed is stored and where.
For the coming years the priority for collection is acutely threatened species, including those that are taxonomically indeterminate. Follow this link for a list of New Zealand's threatened plants (including acutely and chronically threatened and 'at risk' taxa).
Requesting seed from the seed bank
The MWH Seed Bank for New Zealand's threatened plants is simply the custodian for seed deposited by the collector. Permission is required from the Network and the seed bank before seed will be made available and it may only be available for bona fide research or conservation work. Please contact the Network firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about obtaining seed.
Follow these links:
* Register as a seed collector
* Seed collection guidelines
* Send seed samples
* Download the seed collection data form (PDF 75K)
This page last updated on 25 Nov 2012