'The Seed Seekers' is the title of an article from the recent Australian Geographic Magazine (April-June 2010) which was placed in my hands by a thoughtful friend in Melbourne this week.
|Article on seedbanks from Australian Geographic|
To read more from this article go to this web journal post at Australian Geographic.
|The journey of a seed ends in the cold room at the Millennium Seed Bank in sourthern England. (Photo: Richard Weinstein)|
from the article:
Seed banking involves collecting and storing seed from plants. It is both an insurance policy against extinction and a source of high-quality material for the restoration of habitats. It's labour-intensive work but is cost effective - it is estimated an average of $5000 is needed to save a species from extinction. The NSW Seedbank ( the source of information for this article) received an injection of funds from the State Government in 1999 and a major boost from the MSB upon joining its program in 2003. More recently, HSBC Bank Australia became a major BGT supporter and part of its funding was directed to seed banking.
What's learnt in the seed-banking process also aids the understanding and management of species in the wild. So far, MSB has banked seeds from 10 per cent of the world's known wild plants, more than 24,000 species, including 12 now extinct in the wild. Its next target is to have saved seeds from 25 per cent of plant species by 2020. Roughly a quarter of all the world's plant species face the threat of extinction, but twice that number could be at risk should the average planetary temperature rise , as climate change experts predict. Of Australia's 25,000 species, 23 per cent are under threat.
"Seed knowledge, I believe, is going to be quite critical over the next couple of decades. - Peter Cuneo, BGT's Seedbank manager.