GWENT Wildlife Trust has collected more than 1.3 million seeds for a project to protect Britain's native species against climate change and deadly disease.

The seeds will be locked up in underground vaults at the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, where they will be preserved in case of any future ecological catastrophe.

The project launched in May 2013 with the aim of securing diverse collections of native trees and shrubs. So far the project has collected over 13 million tree seeds from over 70 different species across the UK.

"Building up this seed collection of some of the nation’s favourite and most important tree species is a vital step in combating the multiple challenges facing our woodlands, such as pests and diseases and a warming climate," project officer Alice Hudson said. "We can’t thank Gwent Wildlife Trust enough for their support in ensuring that seeds from across the UK are collected and their future conserved.”


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In Gwent, trust workers and volunteers have made 90 seed collections in the past five years, visiting some of the region's most beautiful sites including The Skirrid, in Abergavenny; the Wye Valley, Silent Valley Nature Reserve in Ebbw Vale, Magor Marsh Nature Reserve, Henllys Bog Nature Reserve in Cwmbran, and the Llanthony Valley in Abergavenny.

These seeds will be sent to Kew, where they can be preserved and made available to researchers working on solutions to tackle the threats facing the country's woodlands.

Beyond the important conservation role, the seed bank project has benefitted Gwent Wildlife Trust volunteers who have come to learn more about the region's woodlands.

“I'm proud to have been able to contribute to this worthwhile and well-run project," volunteer Peter Hunt said. "Over the past few years, I have appreciated those days out in the beautiful woods of South Wales, collecting seeds and learning to appreciate the diversity of woodlands and the valuable role that trees and other species play in the fascinating woodland ecosystem.”

Trust ecologist Andy Karran said: “I have personally loved working on this project for the past 5 years, visiting a whole range of the finest woodlands in South Wales and meeting many lovely people who have helped along the way.

"The Kew Millennium Seed Bank project has been great for Gwent Wildlife Trust. We have engaged with many woodland owners, building up strong relationships to assist our other conservation work and have played our part in conserving our tree and shrub species for South Wales wildlife and people for future generations to enjoy.”