Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Kew Gardens is one of the world's best loved botanic gardens, and a world-leading centre for plant science and conservation. Plants provide the oxygen we breathe, protect freshwater supplies, are a rich source of medicines, and provide food for animals – including humans. Without them, we would soon perish.
Despite this, 25% of the world's plant species are at risk of extinction in the wild. Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plants worldwide with a focus on those most at risk and most useful – in farming, horticulture, medicine, forestry or underpinning economic activities. Placing seeds in deep-freeze storage keeps them alive for centuries, meaning that Kew can prevent plants from going extinct and support their reintroduction.
Together with partner seed banks around the world, Kew have already safeguarded over 39,100 plant species, and hope to raise this to 75,000 species by 2020.
Here in Britain, the rapid emergence of pests, diseases and invasive species threatens some of our most important and cherished tree species such as ash, oak and Scots pine. Funding from players of People's Postcode Lottery is supporting Kew's efforts to collect seeds from the 50 most important tree species found in the UK. By setting up the UK's first comprehensive store of UK tree seeds, we can support research to combat tree diseases and enable the restoration of trees with natural resistance to the wild.