Banking Australia’s wealth of biodiversity

The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for the Environment

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley today unveiled designs for a $7.2 million state-of-the-art seed bank at the Australian National Botanic Gardens Canberra, ensuring the protection of Australia’s precious native plant species in the face of a changing climate and extreme weather events like bushfires and floods.

Minister Ley said $650,000 in philanthropic donations would also be used in the construction of the National Seedbank, which is expected to begin in 2022.

“This new National Seed Bank is an investment in the health of our environment through its protection of our Nation’s wealth of biodiversity,” Minister Ley said.

“The Seed Bank features a large freezer or vault that will quadruple the existing storage capacity as well as a state-of-the-art laboratory to enhance the research and conservation programs already delivered by the Botanic Gardens.”

The Australian National Botanic Gardens currently holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Australian native plants, including large numbers of rare and threatened species.

“The existing seed bank holds more than 7,700 seed collections from almost 4,000 plant species – 139 of which are threatened species. Its scientific and horticultural research is pivotal to the conservation of Australia’s plant biodiversity,” Minister Ley added.

“Last summer, the National Seed Bank team collected and assessed plants impacted by the Black Summer bushfires. Of the more than two dozen species collected, two of them had 100 per cent of their habitat in Namadgi National Park heavily impacted by the fires.”

Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis said seed banks were vitally important in extinction-proofing Australia’s native plant species.

“The seeds stored safely in the new National Seed Bank will ensure our children and our grandchildren can appreciate Australia’s amazingly rich collection of flora.”

The importance of seed banking was highlighted by the Government’s Threatened Species Hub today with new research pointing to 50 species at risk of extinction, culminating in the launch of an Action Plan for Australia’s Imperilled Plants.

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