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Helping to Meet the 1000 Species Target

Field work has led to rediscoveries of species thought to be extinct. This was the case with the Showy Violet in South Australia (Viola betonicifolia ssp betonicifolia). Photo: South Australian Seed Conservation Centre
Field work by members of the Partnership has led to rediscoveries of species thought to be extinct. This was the case with the Showy Violet in South Australia (Viola betonicifolia ssp betonicifolia)
Photo: South Australian Seed Conservation Centre

1000 Species Project target

During 2014-15 we reached 760 species.

Australia is home to many threatened, endemic and economically valuable plant species. Threats to these species come in many forms: plant diseases such as myrtle rust (Puccinia psidii s.l.) and cinnamon fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi), land clearing and habitat destruction, and unpredictable weather events such as bushfires, droughts and heatwaves. Seed banking creates ex situ collections that allows for safeguarding of our native plants. Scientific work can be conducted with the collected seed to help increase our understanding of the germination and seed biology of different native species. Once collected, seed can be stored and thus provide a resource for future use if need be. This provides insurance for the species in the wild in case of further loss or extinction; banked seed could be used to help reestablish a population.

The 1000 Species Project is the Partnership’s main seed banking project, encompassing all of the other collecting projects we run. It is a 10 year project that has is running through to 2020. The Project aims to collect seeds from taxa that are currently unrepresented in Australian conservation seed banks as part of Phase 1, to increase the diversity of species currently in conservation seed banks. Phase 2 of the Project aims to improve the genetic representation of species that are already in these seed banks, as well as those species collected during Phase 1. This is done by collecting seed, where possible, from a variety of populations of a particular species across geographic areas. As further insurance for the collected species, collections are duplicated and stored in long-term storage facilities in Australia and at the Millennium Seed Bank in the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, in the UK.

In practice, the species collections are made by the Partners around the country. They are able to provide the local knowledge, expertise and on-the-ground capability to collect seed of target species in their state. To date, this work has been conducted with the support of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Fieldwork Fund, as well as philanthropic organisations such as the Bjarne K. Dahl Trust, the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife and the Garfield-Weston Foundation, along with government grants.

While the 1000 Species Project is the overarching seed banking project of the Partnership, much of the collecting work takes place as part of smaller targeted projects. For example, Bjarne K. Dahl Trust funded collections of threatened eucalypt (Myrtaceae) species between 2013 and 2014 contributed 13 new species to the 1000 Species target, as will the collection of around 380 rainforest tree species supported by the Garfield-Weston Foundation as part of a Global Tree Project, of which Australia is collecting one quarter of the international targets.