China seed haven protects endangered plants
Kunming: A leading Chinese seed bank is expanding to protect endangered plants in China and abroad. The Southwest China Germplasm Bank of Wild Species under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Yunnan Province is a research and preservation institution for rare and endangered plants. One of the critically endangered species it protects, the pinus squamata, or Qiaojia pine, only has 29 trees left growing in China. Founded in 2008 and dubbed “Noah’s Ark,” the centre holds 67,800 sets of seeds for more than 9129 plant species from 45 countries and regions. By 2020, it aims to expand its collection to 100,000 sets of seeds from 10,000 species, said Li Weiqi, deputy director of the centre. The centre currently stores seeds from a third of China’s wild plants.
In January this year, 346 species arrived at the center from the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. “This was the sixth round of foreign seeds to arrive at our centre,” said Mr Li. Currently, the centre holds 1197 sets of foreign seeds, with each set containing thousands of individual seeds. The centre co-operates with 85 research institutes and preservation centres across China. It also works with international partners, including Kew Gardens, in collecting backup specimens, exchanges and research. Xinhua