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New Zealand’s unique plant biodiversity is under threat. Every seed is a potential plant. One way to safeguard New Zealand’s indigenous plant biodiversity is to store seed at -20°C in a seed bank. This seed can be used to reintroduce plants into areas where they have been lost.
The New Zealand project has been training collectors throughout the country who will collect and send seed of New Zealand’s flora to Palmerston North. Collectors will be trained on protocol around collecting and sending seed, to ensure the integrity of the seeds is maintained and the seeds will be viable to store. So far, nearly one hundred collectors have been trained.
Once the seed reaches Palmerston North another group of volunteers extract, clean and dry the seed in preparation for banking. Before banking a small portion of the seed is x-rayed to make sure the seed is free of larvae and that the seed is in good physical shape. The last step before the seed is banked is for the volunteers to germinate a portion of the seed collected to make sure it is viable.
Not all seed is able to be dried for banking. For example kohekohe seed dies if dried below 30-40% moisture. Part of the project is to try and determine which seed can be dried for banking and what other ways seed that cannot be dried can be stored.
Since the project began in October 2013 over 90 species have been collected and banked. The project is always looking for volunteers to help with the collecting and processing of the seed.
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Last updated on Friday 08 March 2019
Seed bank volunteer Sarah Galley using the pole pruner to collect kanuka seed at Dawson Falls, Taranaki.
Vanessa Angster (AgResearch) collecting tetragonia implexicoma fruits at Baring Head, Wellington.