PlantBank helps to preserve biodiversity

THE first seeds have been banked at the newly Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan.

NSW Governor Marie Bashir opened the cutting edge, $19.8 million scientific and education facility on Friday before banking 59 seeds of the endangered Persoonia hindii plant.

Professor Bashir described the PlantBank as a visionary project and spoke enthusiastically about its role.

"The PlantBank will surely become the focal point for plant conservation in Australia," she said.

"It will become a major centre for research and it gives the public access to plant science and scientists at the forefront of conservation research."

She spoke about the important role it would be able to play in educating school and university students about the importance of plants and the environment.

Environment Minister Robyn Parker said the PlantBank already held more than 100 million seeds from 4600 plant species, of which 44 per cent were from NSW.

"This is an amazing innovation and not something you will find in many places," she said.

"It will take people on a journey about plants and will make plant research and storage quite trendy."

Project manager John Siemon said the staff at the facility would work with botanic gardens around the country to build up its collection until it had samples from each one of Australia's 25,000 plants species.

Mr Siemon said the seed storage vaults were specifically designed to prolong the shelf lives of the seeds.

"We believe, and the science has confirmed, that most seeds will keep for several hundred years, many may outlast the facility itself," he said.

"We've found some of our longest living seeds are capable of being stored for several thousand years."

The public were given a chance to tour through the PlantBank on Saturday and to learn about the role it will play in preserving Australia's floral future.

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