In fifty countries worldwide there are organisations collecting seeds. The common aim is to collect and preserve seeds whilst always trying to improve the means for such collection.
The seeds come mainly from alpine, dryland, coastal and island ecosystems. This is because these areas are the most vulnerable to changes in the climate and therefore most at risk.
The seeds are kept in banks in their country of origin, with duplicate samples being sent to Kew’s Millenium Seed Bank where facilities are state-of-the-art.
The Millenium Seed Bank looks for plants that can only be found in specific habitats, that are important economically, or endangered. Such global work helps nations meet international objectives such as those laid down by Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations Environment Programme.
Collecting and storing plants on a global scale like this has many advantages, including resources for future research into cures for diseases like cancer. In times of crop destruction by inclement weather, stored seeds can provide a new hope for the future.