Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Hear Back From The Millenium Seed Bank!

Hello SuperForest.

We have some very good news!
We've just received an email from Mr. Rob Yates at the Millennium Seed Bank.

"Dear Jackson,

We appreciate your interest and support. Your email has generated a great deal of enthusiasm here, it’s good to know that like minded people around the world share our concerns for global conservation!

The Millennium Seed Bank Project is funded and managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. We are incorporated in the US as the American Society for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

You can mail a cheque to the following address:

Terri Seei: American Society for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 1530 South State St Unit 501 Chicago, IL 60605 USA

The Millennium Seed Bank Project is a global partnership working in more than 50 countries with more than 100 partners worldwide; our aim is to conserve 10% of the world’s wild plant species by 2010. Your support will help us achieve this.

Seed banking is a remarkably simple conservation tool. We collect seeds in the field and take no more than would be necessary for natural regeneration. We dry them to a moisture content that will allow them to survive at -20C. On average, this extends their lifespan for hundreds of years.

Like a Bank, we can withdraw the deposits and put them to good use: to conduct germination tests to make sure they are still viable, or to grow plants to restore habitats, or to put plants back into their native habitats.

In America, we are working directly with one main government partner the Bureau of Land Management and five NGO partners, but many other organisations are associated. Recent trips in the US have yielded some great collections, notably the attractive Trillium grandiflorum, and some valuable native grasses from Texas such as the annual muhly Muhlenbergia minutissima.

We know that wild plants play critical roles in the ecosystem, providing wildlife habitat, contributing to water quality, flood management and soil stability. They also provide people with their daily livelihoods. Our work focuses very much on wild plants that are endangered, endemic and of great economic use primarily to subsistence communities.

We have some great stories about how our work really benefits people; the Mongongo tree from Botswana is one example. The tree produces a highly nutritious fruit and a nut that is a part of the daily diet of subsistence communities. Our partners in Botswana were struggling to germinate seedlings. From 100 seeds, they would produce less than 15 trees. We shared our protocols with our partners and they saw a dramatic rise in the success of seedlings to germinate. From 100 seeds, they were able to produce 87 saplings.

Globally, we estimate 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are threatened with extinction. With climate change and habitat loss, it is vital that we conserve as many plants as possible before they go extinct. For future generations to meet the challenges of an uncertain future, they will need the greatest biological inheritance we can bequeath them. The Millennium Seed Bank delivers this.

On average, it costs £2000 ($3,062) to save a species. We believe it is a small price to pay for all that plants provide. For me the great thing about saving plants is that we do not yet know many of the secrets they possess. For example, does a particular plant hold the cure for cancer?

If you would like any further information, please do email. If you make it to the UK, I would be delighted to give you a tour of the Millennium Seed Bank.

Once again thank your for your support, it will help us make a real difference.

Rob Yates"

Well, that's very encouraging!
And with that, I'm delighted to give a huge thank you to SuperForesters Mary Ann and
Jon for donating to the Save-A-Seed project.

Good news all around.


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