The Millennium Seed Bank in Britain – a sort of Noah’s Ark for plants – is under threat due to a lack of funding caused by the credit crunch. The world’s largest plant conservation project opened in 2000 and was meant to gather seeds from every flowering plant on the planet and keep them stored for future generations.
“We are, if you like, the real world bank,” said Paul Smith, Head of the Millennium Seed Bank. “Countries choose to store their seeds with us. So the seed which is sitting in the vault from South Africa doesn’t belong to us – just like in your high street bank – it belongs to the government of South Africa, and they can choose how that seed is used. Maybe they want a long-term account; maybe they want a current account.”
The bank already hosts 10 per cent of the world’s plant species. But just as it is counting its success, the global financial crisis has arrived to threaten the bank’s future.