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Rainforest seed project - a project to save rainforest species, our most vulnerable resource
Seedbanking is a cost effective way of conserving vulnerable species outside of their natural habitat but not all species can survive the seedbanking procedure that requires seeds to be toleratant of desiccation. Of particular concern, is the probability that many hundreds of rainforest species have seeds that are sensitive to drying out (desiccation sensitive).
Desiccation sensitive species, including many rainforest species, cannot be stored using conventional seedbanking techniques, making ex situ conservation difficult. Seeds of plants from drier habitats are adapted to being dried out and can therefore be stored in seed banks at low temperatures for decades without losing viability. However, fleshy fruited species from wetter environments such as rainforests may not be able to be stored this way and must be grown immediately or need to be stored as tissue culture collections or cryogenically (at -196°C).
The Rainforest Seed Project at the Australian PlantBank contributes to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and conservation planning for threatened species. The Rainforest Seed Project is generously funded by the Arcadia Fund who are providing 50% of the project funding over a five year period from 2013 to 2017. Supporters helping to match the Arcadia funding include Tony Maxwell & Robyn Godlee, the Clayton family, Dr Jan Roberts and Mr Ken Roberts AM and Principal Conservation Partner HSBC.
We have achieved two thirds of our $600,000 fundraising goal for this project and invite you to join our generous donors and help us reach our target and ensure the success of this project. You can donate on line here or contact the Development team at the Trust on 02 9231 8366.
Key features of the project
The core objectives of the project are to:
Significance of saving our rainforests
Rainforests perform a vital role in maintaining the health of the planet by balancing greenhouse gases through oxygen release and carbon sequestration, and releasing water vapour to fall as rain. They contain a vast amount of biodiversity, provide habitat for many animal species, and provide livelihoods for many indigenous people.
Rainforests under threat
An intergovernmental panel of 2500 leading world scientists predicts that at least one third of the world’s forested areas will be adversely affected by global warming. Rises in atmospheric temperatures of between 3° and 5°C are expected over the next 50 years and this will drive many species to extinction.
Rainforest species are often highly adapted to their habitats and are unable to adapt or move in response to these predicted changes. Global warming will increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires to which many rainforest species are poorly adapted. Unsustainable logging, urban and agricultural development into rainforest areas will further impact on rainforest viability.
Australian rainforests - diverse and vulnerable
Australian rainforests cover only 0.3 % of the land and yet contain more than 50 % of the plant biodiversity of our nation. Three significant World Heritage listed areas that occur on the east coast of Australia have large rainforest components. In NSW and southern Queensland, the so-called ‘Gondwana Rainforests’ occur as a ‘discontinuous chain of islands in a sea of fire prone eucalypt and agricultural lands’. They contain more than 200 species of rare and threatened plants and animals.
Outcomes of Rainforest Seed Project research
History of the Rainforest Seed Project (2008-2012), previously funded by Allianz and private donors
Click here to view reports.
Our amazing rainforest fruits and seeds. Photos: K. Hamilton