Millennium Seed Bank (2)
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Ideally plants should be preserved in the wild in the habitat where they naturally grow. However human-induced habitat loss is already great and likely to continue. Seed banks are a very efficient way of guaranteeing their survival.
Because seeds occupy little space, need very little attention and can be preserved, in the right conditions, almost indefinitely, many thousands may be stored for a particular species, each one representing a potential new plant.
First and foremost plants are the major food source for people and their domesticated animals, but they also provide a whole host of products that people need every day; medicines, fuel for heating lighting and cooking, fibres for clothes, materials for building and many other uses. Plants also help regulate the climate and protect the soil. Pharmaceuticals, for example, are often derived from plants. However plants are often lost before anything is known about their potential benefits for today's society and for generations to come.
The Project carries out research, based on the wild plant seed conservation skills gained over almost 30 years by RBG Kew's Seed Conservation Department, to improve all aspects of seed conservation and, where international agreements permit, make seeds available for a wide array of research plus species re-introduction into the wild. The Millennium Seed Bank building also aims to promote public interest in plant conservation through its interpretive displays.