Sowing the Seed for Improved Habitat Restoration

A new initiative from the Kew Millennium Seed Bank will supply commercial seed companies with large amounts of high quality wildflower seed, to help in the restoration of flower-rich meadows. Only 2% of this habitat now remains in England and Wales, with 98% lost since the Second World War. The UK Native Seed Hub project will draw on the large collection of wildflower seed held by the Seed Bank.

Speaking to the BBC, Stephanie Miles, in charge of the project, explained that “commercial growers lack a good, reliable source of UK single species seed”. At present, commercial companies are often unable to provide seed which is genetically adapted to the site of restoration. Stephanie Miles commented that this project would result in the “bulking up” of seed available to support restoration projects in the UK. Plants will initially be grown in temporary seed production beds before being moved to large, permanent seed beds from where seed can be harvested.

The project is being funded by a £750,000 grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. The first restoration project to benefit from the seed will be in West Sussex, as a collaborative project between Kew and the High Weald Landscape Trust. Following the focus on meadows, the Millennium Seed Bank will expand the project to encompass 40 other habitat types, including lowland heathland and chalk grassland.

Read more in the Guardian, on the BBC News website and listen to a feature on this story on the Today Programme.