RBG Kew and China Seed Bank

A partnership project between RBG Kew and the
Chinese Academy of Sciences


  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Germplasm Bank of Wild Species (GBWS) at the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences


  • To help the Kunming Institute of Botany accelerate their wild plant conservation work.

Project details

The China Seed Bank
The China Seed Bank was set up with assistance from staff at Kew, who advised on the design, technical specification and layout of the new facility.

It officially opened in October 2008. A delegation from Kew attended the launch and lodged seeds from 204 UK species at the new Chinese facility.

The seed bank has already initiated the Chinese National Seed Conservation Network, with project partners based in provinces all over China. So far, it has contributed to the conservation of around 15,000 collections and more than 3,000 Chinese native species. 

Conservation targets
Under the agreement between Kew and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 4,000 threatened and endemic plant species from China are being targeted for conservation in the GBWS by 2010.

This programme is a major contribution towards Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership’s target of collecting and conserving 10% of the world’s flora by 2010.

Sharing skills with colleagues in China
Training in the UK has been provided for six staff from the GBWS, and workshops on seed conservation practice have been held in China.

Joint science initiatives are now strengthening through two PhD studentships and the development of a seed germination testing programme at GBWS.

Additional joint projects in China
An orchid conservation biotechnology project, funded by Defra’s Darwin Initiative, is also providing links between Kew, Kunming Institute of Botany and other institutes in China.

Kew’s scientific links with China already extend to Tarim University in Xinjiang Province, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Gardens in Yunnan and the Institute of Medicinal Plant Development in Beijing.

Image: Germplasm Bank of Wild Species building, part of the Kunming Institute of Botany campus © Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Part of the new Kunming Institute of Botany campus in China