Project information

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

Protecting biodiversity through the long term conservation of seeds from 25% of the world's plant species.

December 2012 - January 2013

Charity information: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew logo
  • Need


    Plants are the basis of all life on earth, providing food for both humans and animals. They are used for medicine, fabric, shelter and fuel. They regulate the climate, regenerate and maintain soil fertility, provide pest and flood control, purify water and air, and attract and sustain crop pollinators. Without them, we could not survive. Despite this, 25% of the world’s plant species are threatened with extinction , with potentially disastrous consequences for both people and planet.


    Kew's Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) works in over 50 countries to collect & conserve seeds from flowering plant species. We focus on plants known to be:
    * endangered
    * endemic , ie found nowhere else on the planet
    * economically, socially or culturally useful to local communities.

    Processed & stored correctly, seeds are potentially viable for a century or more. The MSB makes its collections, backed up by research data, freely available to support farming, restoration & research.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To fund the collection, processing and safeguarding of 50 plant species in the Millennium Seed Bank.


    » Field trips to collect seeds in Africa, Asia and Latin America
    » Storage of seeds in the MSB and in-country
    » Research to establish optimal germination and propagation conditions for each species.

    What success will look like

    Success will be to have added 50 new species to the MSB collection, making these available to project partners to support livelihoods, restore damaged habitats or conduct research.

  • Impact


    By storing seeds in the MSB we can prevent plant species from going extinct, and reintroduce useful plants into communities and the landscape, whether they are used for food, medicine, fabric, shelter, fuel, or other ecosystem services (such as supporting agriculture, protecting freshwater systems, controlling pollution, etc).

    We can also study plants for as yet undiscovered medical, botanical or agronomic uses, which may be key to managing disease, climate change, pests, etc.


    The MSB has been operating for over ten years, and is used to managing short term risks associated with working overseas. The MSB's storage facilities are custom-designed to keep seeds viable for many years to come, and can withstand risks such as fire, flood, loss of power, explosion, etc.


    Information about the Adopt a Seed Campaign is updated regularly on our website,, as well as via e-mail and other newsletters. The broader work of the MSB in conserving seed and supporting livelihoods and restoration is also described on the website. Visitors are also welcome.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £50,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £15,000 Travel/transport Field trips to gather seeds, herbarium specimens and mapping data
      £8,000 Freight Transfer of duplicate seeds from the field to the MSB (UK)
      £10,000 In-country Training Support for in-country partners to process and store seed
      £7,000 Small equipment grants Supply of seed-banking kit/equipment o local partners
      £7,500 Seed testing and processing Establishing germination protocols, etc at MSB
      £2,500 Administration Project and financial management
  • Background


    This project operates in over 50 countries, mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The funds raised via Big Give donors will support seed collecting in Kenya, Mali and Mexico.


    We will particularly focus on plant species used by subsistence farming communities to support their everyday food security and health.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Kew is the leading organisation in the world committed to the study and conservation of plants. It has been at the forefront of plant science and discovery for over 250 years, and has unrivalled expertise and networks in global conservation.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Paul Smith

    Head of the Millennium Seed Bank, leading a team of conservationists and scientists operating in the UK and globally.