London: Botanists at Britain's Kew
Gardens have collected seeds from 10 per cent of the world's
wild plants, their first goal in a long-term project to
protect all endangered species, they said today.
Seeds from a wild, pink banana are among the latest
additions to the collection at Kew, southwest London, designed
to guard against dwindling diversity.
The banana from China, musa itinerans, is an important
staple for wild elephants and is also useful for breeding new
types of the fruit, but is under threat as its jungle habitat
is cleared for commercial agriculture.
It became the 24,200th species of wild plant with
seeds stored in the Millennium Seed Bank, a nine-year-old
conservation project run by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
and institutions in 54 countries.
With it the project reaches its target to collect,
bank and conserve seeds from 10 per cent of the world's most
under-threat wild plant species -- although it is already
working towards a new goal of 25 per cent of plants by 2020.
"The success we are celebrating today is
extraordinary and on a scale never before contemplated in
global biodiversity conservation," said Professor Stephen
Hopper, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in west London.
"In a time of increasing concern about loss of
biodiversity and climate change, Kew's Millennium Seed Bank
partnership provides a real message of hope and is a vital
resource in an uncertain world.
First Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 23:58