Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Seeking Seedbank Support

Photo by Simone Cottrell, 2006: Paul Smith from the UK Millenium Seedbank with me in Sydney, with some seeds (and fruits).

Yesterday I did a (very) short segment with Margot O'Neill, from ABC Lateline, about the network of conservation seedbanks in Australia. It will part of a longer segment on the impact of climate change on our native biodiversity, due to run next week some time.

We filmed in the NSW Seedbank at Mount Annan Botanic Garden, using the five million or so seeds (neatly packaged in silverfoil) as a backdrop. You'll also see six of the people currently working in the Seedbank, five of them employed on external funds (from the UK Millenium Seedbank and through our own Foundation).

The message of our (short) segment was that at the end of this year, we revert back to maintenance level only - no new seeds, no seed research and no restoration projects - unless we can attract additional funding. We will continue to support a single 'seedbanker' through our State Government core funding, but with a two-thirds of the State's flora still be be collected, and lots of important restoration and research to do, we'll just be treading water.

This scenario will play out across Australia unless we can get about $2 million per year of new funding. The network of seedbanks in Australia (mostly, but not entirely, based in botanic gardens) will submit an application shortly for funds from the Commonwealth 'Caring for Country' grants scheme.

2 comments:

Sally said...

I actually studied seed banks (the other kind) in grad school. Hmmm... wonder if global warming will have us building greenhouses to keep the heat OUT instead of IN, so we can still grow the former natives?

Tim Entwisle said...

Could be the case... We may have to come up with some creative solutions if we want to hold on to particular species. As to what will happen with whole ecosystems put under pressure - we really don't know.