Jul. 15, 2019
The seed bank can store the seeds of up to 25,000 plant species. (Photo: NParks)
Singapore’s first seed bank was officially launched on Saturday (Jul 13), as part of efforts to protect local and regional plant diversity against threats like climate change and habitat loss.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens Seed Bank, set up by the National Parks Board (NParks) in House 4 – the largest of the five colonial-style houses within the former Raffles College at Cluny Road – has a storage capacity of up to 25,000 plant species.
This is about half the number of seed plant species in the region and more than double of that currently found in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, which has around 10,000 species.
Seeds that can tolerate extreme dry and freezing conditions are stored in a cold room at -20 degrees Celsius to increase their lifespan. (Photo: NParks)
Speaking at the launch of the facility, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee likened seed banking to a form of insurance for plant biodiversity.
“With increasing threats from diseases, natural disasters and climate change, the natural dispersal mechanisms of seeds may not be enough,” Mr Lee said.
Seeds stored in the bank can be used in habitat restoration and species conservation projects in Singapore and the region in future, when the need arises.
One example is the critically endangered Sepetir tree. Its seed was collected from a heritage tree in Changi.
The seed bank also houses a seed biology lab, rooms for seed processing and storage freezers, where scientists will conduct research on various storage methods to keep seeds collected from tropical plants for long periods of time.
Visitors can learn about the seed banking process at an "interpretive gallery" at the seed bank. (Photo: NParks)
Visitors can also learn about seed banking and conservation work at galleries and an outdoor garden within the facility.
The seed bank will conduct guided tours and public talks to help more learn about the value of seeds and species conservation.
The opening of the facility also marks the start of the annual Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Festival, which runs until Jul 21.