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Millennium Seed Bank funding


Attempting to avoid the front page stories of economic gloom I found an article in The Times on Thursday which was even more depressing.
The fate of the Millennium Seed Bank, which aims to collect and store seed from every flowering plant on earth, is threatened by (of course) a potential funding shortfall of £10 million.
The project was launched in 2000. Based at Wakehurst Place, W. Sussex, part of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, the seeds collected so far already include several species thought to have died out in the wild. Ten per cent of all the flowering plants in the world are thought to be vulnerable, and keeping some of their seed safe means they could potentially still be grown in the future even if they are no longer viable in the wild.
Existing funding runs out next year, and the danger is that expert staff will leave the project if it seems likely to be suspended, and make it more difficult to revive it in the future.
All our wonderful garden plants began in the wild, and it seems to me that this project should be of the utmost importance to everyone who loves plants, whether in the garden or in the wild.
You can access this article at Times online isn’t a hyperlink, you’ll have to copy and paste, or search Times online)
I hope GOY members find this matter of importance, and that any who can act or exert any influence will do so.

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With the recession taking hold, it seems likely in coming months/years various ventures of all kinds will also suffer through lack of funding.

I agree that the Millennium Seed Bank is important. It would be good if several millionaires could donate some money !
When you see the huge amounts bid in auctions for 'works of art' there is obviously plenty of cash out there! :o)

4 Oct, 2008


So sad. I'm already a "Friend of RBG Kew" so hope that some of my fee helps out. Having said that, if anyone wins the lottery, spare a mill or two for Kew!

4 Oct, 2008


Whilst not a millionaire i would be happy to contribute on a monthly basis.I am already a Friend of Kew and go as much as possible,always spending whatever I can on books,plants and on gifts etc.
However this a drop in the ocean.
Would there be any mileage in getting a petition on the Downing Street Web site calling for the PM to gaurantee funding whilst at the same time asking Kew to set up an online donation site .
if anyone has ideas I would be pleased to help in any way possible
Whilst I am sure Kew itself will survive we need to maake sure the work of collecting seed continues.
Who knows if a cure to something we don't even recognise as a problem yet may become extinct because we let it slip through our fingers.
Not to mention the cost to the environment of the knock on effect of losing plants and habitat for animals insects etc.
We currently have a problem with bees dying at the moment and nobody is really taking that seriously.
Einstein said that humanity will cease in just 4 years without bees .
\Whilst not wanting to ruin anyones evening there is a lot of food for thought here.....

4 Oct, 2008


re above
Have a look at e petitions .The petition on road charging generated tens of thousands of signatures because it struck a chord with the public and snowballed as it gained more publicity.
Worth a try-anyone with media connections?

4 Oct, 2008


Thanks for such a positive response, Arlene. I don't have the resources, emotional or otherwise, to organise a petition, but was hoping I might strike a chord with someone in GOY, or at least spread the word a bit.
I'm afraid my personal road to hell is paved with good intentions.

5 Oct, 2008


Here in my town there is a seed company that was saving seeds and had them all in a safe in a building that burnt some time back...they managed to save still a good portion of the seeds but the foundation is not so prolific as it had been, the fire took a lot of wind out of its sells...I need to look into how they are doing now.

5 Oct, 2008


Very interesting Readjahne yet another project of global concern that fails to attract global concern .

Read recently that 20,000 acres of amazonian rain forest costs £1 millon so how is it not all purchased and protected as the lungs of our planet.

If any place on earth deserves to be a World Heritage Site then surely its this.Without it we ll have no heritage.

Wish I had the influence you require sadly feel that political will not strong enough to force such issues onto a wider agenda.Perhaps seed companies themselves have a responsibility?

8 Oct, 2008


The odd thing is that I had not heard a hint of this before, in my Kew Magazine ? I will have a look at the latest copy and check it out - Kew are always sending out letters for urgent funding on other projects.

8 Oct, 2008


I suppose, with all the heavy financial stuff 'going down' at present, a cause like this has scant chance of any support. Perhaps I've spent too many hours immersed in science fiction, but this seems like a real opportunity to influence the future - a "time capsule" if ever there was one! It'll be a bit like the buffalo, Bonkers. In years (centuries?) to come when the rainforests have gone, some scientist will grow trees in a laboratory, and marvel at the idea that they once covered whole continents!

9 Oct, 2008


~I sent an email to Kew asking for a monthly debit form and whether they needed an online Downing Street petition but so far have not had a reply.Did have a letter yesterday marked Millenium seed bank project asking for a donation but without anywhere for monthly donations ~ however inside Amateur Gardening also recd yesterday there is a direct debit form!!!!!
I will complete and return tomorrow-(don't forget to complete the gift aid bit if you pay tax) and ask re petition again.~

19 Oct, 2008


Arlene ~
Well done on your efforts with this. :o)

19 Oct, 2008


Thanks Arlene, and everyone else, for following this up. Thanks GOY for providing a platform.

19 Oct, 2008


Hi All
~today I received a reply from Robert Yates at Kew.
The gist is that they want the word to spread out to friends,colleagues ,family as much as possible whilst they launch their appeal for funds and not to petition Downing Street as yet.
the site he sent me gives a monthly or one off donation as follows
see below
Rather than writing to Downing Street if you could promote this appeal with your friends, family and colleagues it would help enormously. As I write I have colleagues overseas who are busy collecting seeds. Michiel Van Slageren (on the website) will be heading to South Africa in December and in a weeks time Moctar Sacande will lead a seed collecting trip to Madagascar. Of the 10,000 plants native to Madagascar, 90% are found nowhere else in the world. We have a number of rare and endangered species to collect and the team will be looking for species from four specific families - Apocynaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Crassulaceae and Rubiaceae - as well as making opportunistic collections of any other interesting species.

On Thursday I myself will be out collecting seeds in Sussex. We have targeted a species known as cut-grass (Leersia oryzoides). Endemic to the UK, it is a threatened species and specially protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Since 1985 it has been recorded at only five sites in the UK, all of which are in southern England, this species used to be widespread throughout Europe.

Once again thank you for your support, it is hugely encouranging for staff, colleagues and partners overseas to know that there are people who share our concerns and will support our work. Thank you.

Best wishes,


20 Oct, 2008


Well Done Arlene for all the hard work uv put in2getting a Answer from Kew:) i will be 1 of the many im sure who will be putting the word around &try2help any other way we possible can :) XXX

20 Oct, 2008


Great work Arlene.This info highlights the need for an International response and should surely be more highly recognised.

If left to individual donations then can this important work ever hope to be truly sustainable as it will compete with charity donations etc.

Forgive my ignorance but there must be a world wide body whose responsibility it is to monitor such things. Is it really down to Kew to save the worlds plant heritage?

20 Oct, 2008


hi there BB
~ you would like to think that the UN or some such body would be out there doing this but no doubt the money is being channelled into somebody's back pocket!
~they really need publicity to get it onto the international concsiousness which is where I was going with the Downing Street petition-fair do's to the Times and Guardian who had full page articles and I get the impression that all the gardening mags may carry the flyer with the direct debit form as Amateur Gardening did.
I have completed my online direct debit form and will wait to see what happens next.
~there are a lot of people out there like Alan Titchmarch who actually owe their positions today from the years they spent there
getting their qualifications and knowledge who could surely promote a campaign.?
I have written to Peter asking if there is anything he can do to promote awareness on GOY but not had reply-anyone else who can add a few words,please feel free!
Why have Gardeners World not gone with this story?
Will be writing more emails I think......

20 Oct, 2008

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