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Victoria Seed Bank project an “insurance policy” against Australian plant extinctions

Posted by gmarkets on 15 September, 2007

The Victorian seed bank project is run by the botanic gardens, with help from the Department of Sustainability and Environment.” It was the world’s “insurance policy” against plant extinctions – green thumbs from across the globe banking tens of thousands of seeds for the future, reported The Age (7/9/2007, p. 4).

280 species so far: Called the Millenium Seed Bank, the project was started by Britain’s Royal Botanic Garden in Kew, and 18,000 plant species had already been catalogued and stored, The Age reported. The Victorian arm of the international effort – the Victorian Conservation Seedbank – started two years ago, and scientists had so far collected 4.5 million seeds for the cause, representing 280 species. After the seeds were dried and cleaned, they were stored in freezers set at minus 20 degrees. The idea was that if a plant died out, the banked specimens could be used to reintroduce it to the wild. Half of the collected samples would be deposited with the UK bank, with the rest to be stored at Victoria’s National Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Melbourne.

“Extinct” plant found: The Age reported: “More than 3000 native species of plants can be found in Victoria, but about 700 are considered to be under threat of extinction. Collection of Victorian seeds started in October 2005. Items banked so far include seeds from a daisy bush that grows on a single limestone marble outcrop in East Gippsland, and seeds from a eucalypt known from just one plant in the Wimmera. The collection work has also led to the rediscovery of Pimelea spinescens, a plant thought to be extinct since 1901.

The Age, 7/9/2007, p. 4

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