Allianz helps NSW Seedbank insure against climate change

26 November, 2007

A project to insure the planet against climate change by saving rainforest species will now get off the ground thanks to funding by Allianz, but Sydney’s Botanic Gardens Trust said more funds are needed.

Botanic Gardens Trust Executive Director, Dr Tim Entwisle said of particular concern is that many (nearly 2000) of Australian rainforest species have seeds that are appear to be sensitive to drying out.

“Global warming is likely to have a dramatic impact on the rainforests of New South Wales,” Dr Entwisle said.“Rainforest species are often highly adapted to their environment, and even a small change can pose an enormous threat to their survival. Compounding this problem, our remaining pockets of rainforest are often isolated from one another, not allowing any migration of species as the climate changes.

“The ‘Seeds for the Future’ project will collect seed, screen them for longevity and storage needs, and identify the best methods for their conservation.

“We will also propagate selected rainforest plants to see how they respond to stresses such as temperature extremes, salinity, disease and a myriad of factors that cannot be tested in wild populations because of obvious threats to their continued survival,” he said.

Mount Annan Botanic Garden, Manager Horticultural Research, Dr Cathy Offord said seedbanking is more than just tucking plants away for future reintroduction to the wild.

“Seedbanking allows scientists to study the plants closely and to predict how changes may affect plants in the wild,” Dr Offord said. “Some species cannot be stored long-term as seeds. We’ll be developing tissue culture and cryogenic methods to bank them.”

The ‘Seeds for the Future’ project is part of SeedQuest NSW, a global partnership between the Botanic Gardens Trust and the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (UK).

Allianz Managing Director, Terry Towell, said, “Allianz has for many years provided global leadership on a range of levels in the partnership between business, governments and the community to meet the challenges of climate change. Mr Towell added, “Allianz is always looking for practical ways in which it can contribute to meeting the challenges of climate change and the Botanic Garden Trust’s ‘Seeds for the Future’ project provided a perfect opportunity for this. Allianz was particularly pleased with the opportunity to help in a project that would have a practical climate change benefit for Australia,” he said.

Under the umbrella of the Australian Rainforest Conservation Project, the Trust with other Australian partners will also work on the long-term survival of Australian rainforest species in their natural habitats.

While The Trust is thrilled that Allianz have come to the party with $70,000 a year, the Trust’s fundraising arm, the Royal Botanic Gardens Foundation, is seeking further donations – an additional $50,000 a year is needed - from other benefactors.

To become a benefactor and help keep the ‘Seeds for the Future’ project running contact Pauline Markwell on phone: (02) 9231 8308.

Media Contacts:
Karla Davies, Royal Botanic Gardens, +61 2 9231 8004, Mobile: 0427 482 477
Nicholas Scofield, Allianz Australia, +61 2 9390 6596, Mobile: 0146 088 414