As wildfires are still raging in Australia, the UK is stepping up to help protect Australian biodiversity by storing rare seeds in its wild seed bank. Scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, home to the world’s largest wild seed bank, will assist with emergency seed collection, and store rare seed specimens at its Millennium Seed Bank (MSB). The bank houses over 2.3 billion seeds from 190 countries, in airtight glass containers in freezers underground. The seeds could be used to grow a new generation of plants and trees.
The MSB’s Elinor Breman said in a statement, “Kew scientists will work with the ASBP [Australian Seed Bank Partnership] to conduct emergency seed-collecting in areas devastated by the bushfires and longer-term germination research, which will hopefully aid the international effort to restore habitats more quickly in this precious and biodiverse region.”
According to Reuters, 12,450 seed collections representing 8,900 Australian species so far have been duplicated and stored in the seed bank.
The seed collections might prove invaluable to reviving an ecosystem devastated by flames. The Australian government has called the bushfires an ecological disaster, with over 26.2 million acres of land affected across Australia.