Emergency Seed Collecting Fund to Save Australian Native Flora

Grant Awarded by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on behalf of the UK Government.

Our work is built on collaborations and partnerships, and one partnership that has been instrumental to our success is Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP). Through the MSBP we have built capacity and delivered projects to collect and bank native species over the past 20 years. Following the bushfires the MSBP has once more reached out to help us save our threatened flora. Thanks to a very generous offer of support from the UK Department of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, we were able to undertake a collecting program in affected areas in the first season post fires. 

Pressing plants
ASBP partners press collected plants in the field (Photo: Darryl Whitaker)

The project is enabling us to make seed collections and deliver germination research for high priority species from bush fire affected areas across all Australian states and territories. Species were selected for the impact from recent bushfires, the species threatened status, and their potential to provide critical ecosystem services that support Australia’s native wildlife.

Additional work in this project includes rapid flora assessments of impacted areas and establishing seed production areas for priority plants. The surveys will focus on high-risk species and areas to establish vegetation condition, species abundance, the presence of pests and disease and overall fire impacts. The assessments will provide seed banks with crucial information about species recovery post fire, helping us to determine which species most need our help in the collecting season’s ahead. This data will also be uploaded to botanic gardens databases and made available to those involved in research, conservation, and bushfire recovery actions.

In addition to this, the Partners have agreed a rapid assessment methodology developed and refined by The Australian PlantBank. This project funded the printing of specialised field books to capture this specific bushfire data which has been implemented by our Partners this season already. These field books will be reused over the coming seasons to monitor impact and recovery over time and inform future seed collection priorities.

The work our partners deliver means that thousands of native species are now secured in seed banks throughout Australia. We hope our work and the ongoing interest from overseas will inspire Australians to learn more about the conservation of native plants in our vast and varied continent, including the fascinating world of ex situ seed conservation, research and restoration.

The UK Government announces support for the Australian Bushfires

Following the Australian bushfires of 2019-2020, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and the Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced a package of support from the UK Government to assist with this emergency seed conservation work. The Partnership acknowledges the generous support of the UK Government for flora conservation in Australia. The announcement was part of a broader media event that can be viewed at this link.

Project target species

For each project that we deliver, our Partners identify target species that they aim to collect. As with all environmental projects we sometimes have to adapt our plans as conditions change. When seed isn’t available for a target species, or when we need to let the seed replenish the soil seed bank, our agile Partners will identify other priority species that can be collected in place of our initial targets. The total number of species secured therefore remains the same, and the initial targets are then prioritised for collection in future years.

The following ASBP partners are involved in this project

Alice Springs Desert Park, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory

The Australian PlantBank, The Australian Botanic Garden, Mt Annan, The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust

George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory

National Seed Bank, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Australian Capital Territory

South Australian Seed Conservation Centre, Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, South Australia

Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

The Victorian Conservation Seedbank, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

The Western Australia Seed Centre, Kings Park, Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority

The Western Australian Seed Centre, Kensington, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions