Enhancing capacity for seed collection in Kenya
The Global Trees Campaign (GTC) is working with our partners at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) to deliver training in seed collection and conservation. We recently held a training course in Kenya, in collaboration with the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI), to enhance the seed collecting skills of GTC partners and enable them to contribute by collecting seed from priority tree species in Kenya.
Seed storage is an excellent conservation measure for tree species, requiring less space and resources to manage than living collections.
Kenya has a high number of endemic and interesting tree species, many of which are over-exploited for their value as medicinal or timber species, and many of which are currently not stored in ex situ collections as seed or living plants. In response to this, the Global Trees Campaign is working with our Kenyan partners to identify priority species for collection to be brought into ex situ conservation collections at the Gene Bank of Kenya and duplicated at the MSBP.
A key aim of the project is to increase capacity for seed collection. A three day workshop was held in collaboration with the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI), providing high level training in seed collection and conservation to our partners in Kenya. Over 20 participants took part, including representatives from Kenyan botanic gardens, government agencies and private seed collectors. Two days of lectures were held at the KEFRI Headquarters in Nairobi, providing training on sampling techniques, how to ensure a collection represents genetic diversity, and best practice in post-harvest handling. This was followed by a tour and explanation of seed processing steps at KEFRI’s Seed Handling Unit.
The final day of the training involved practical training held at Brackenhurst Botanic Garden, situated in Limuru. Participants put their newly learnt skills into practice, collecting seed from and performing viability testing on the wide variety of tree species planted in the restored indigenous forest at Brackenhurst Botanic Garden. MSBP provided training on a variety of skills such as how to undertake a seed cut test to determine seed viability and correct time of sampling, and the National Museums of Kenya provided training on making a herbarium specimen.
As a result of the training, 11 organisations and private collectors were officially registered as KEFRI seed suppliers, enabling them to provide seed to KEFRI for sale, and contribute to the conservation collections.