Tree seed collection banks hopes for future

Collecting tree seeds from Exmoor, North Devon

Devon Wildlife Trust has just made its last deposit to a very special bank.
Tree seed collection from a rope

Not all tree seed collections were easy. Here collecting small-leaved lime seeds in East Devon

Since 2013 Devon Wildlife Trust has been collecting seeds from trees across the county. The annual autumn collection has been part of a national project to preserve the genetic future of the UK’s trees. The charity is a partner in the UK National Tree Seed Project, an initiative set up by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, with funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

In recent weeks Devon Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers have been scouring its own 57 nature reserves and other sites around the county to find a list of tree seeds provided by Kew. This autumn the list included aspen, goat willow, small-leaved lime, grey willow, elder and hazel.

Some of the collections proved tricky. One species, small-leaved lime, entailed having to employ professional tree workers to scale trees along East Devon’s Undercliffs to retrieve seed samples.

All the Devon seeds are destined for Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank where they are processed and transferred to deep-freeze conditions. There they are stored alongside thousands of other tree seeds collected from around the UK. The aim of the Seed Bank is that its unique collection will support research and on-the-ground conservation activity for many decades to come.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Steve Hussey said:

“Our trees are vital to the planet’s health and form an important part of local culture. The UK’s trees seem to be increasingly under threat on numerous fronts, so it’s very reassuring to know that seeds from so many native species are now safely stored for posterity at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. At Devon Wildlife Trust, we are very proud to have played a part over the last six years in ensuring that the bank contains a record of our tree biodiversity.”