A collaboration of coast and countryside organisations on The Lizard Peninsula



We are hoping to get enough people together to help with this project, and we are looking for keen expert or amateur botanists to help us. Staff from the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership have offered to come down here and offer training to all those people participating in the project.

There are several stages to the work:-

1. Checking the locations of the target species and mapping them all.

2. Determining when the species normally flower and checking for prime flowering time for each species

3. Collecting specimens of live plants (not of very rare species) and preparing the plants to be pressed and labelled for sending to Kew.

4. Checking locations of plants for optimum seeding time and collecting seed (not of very rare species) and preparing the seeds to be sent to Kew.

Where the species is particularly rare we will make an assessment as to whether the populations concerned have produced enough seed for a minimum amount to be collected, this will vary from year to year and decisions about collecting will be made only once detailed counts and observations of these species have been carried out.

Why are we doing this, well here is an extract from the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership website:-

"Together with our partners in 80 countries worldwide, we have already successfully saved seeds from over 13% of the world's wild plant species.

By 2020, our aim is to secure the safe storage of seed from 25% of the world's bankable plants. We target plants and regions most at risk from climate change and the ever-increasing impact of human activities. We also save the seeds of the world's plant life faced with the threat of extinction, and those that could be of most use in the future.

The seeds we save are banked at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, and in our partner seed banks around the world.

Why Kew saves seeds

Today, between 60,000 and 100,000 species of plant are faced with the threat of extinction – roughly a quarter of all plant species.

Plants are dying out largely due to the activities of people. Clearing of primary vegetation, over-exploitation and climate change are all causing species losses.

We need plants, because plants are useful. Plants provide the air we breathe, they provide clean water, fuel, building materials, fibres, resins and we all rely on plants for food.

Plants also play a vital role in combating climate change. Plants maintain the atmosphere and counteract climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide, turning it into plant material. Kew's projects are supporting plants in mitigating and adapting to our changing climate.

Over 30,000 species of plant are edible, but we use only a tiny fraction of these in commercial agriculture. In the future we may well need a much greater range of species, particularly if climate change alters growing seasons or the world's population continues to increase and we run out of prime agricultural land.

Plants are also vital for medicine. About 70% of the world's population relies on traditional plant remedies for medicine. Only one in five plant species have been screened for use in medicine. Cures for diseases could lie in many of these unscreened species.

Seed bagsWe can't afford to let these plants, and the potential they hold, die out".

Flower heads of Wild Chives collected from Mullion Cliffs bagged up and ready to send off to the Millennium Seed Bank at Haywards Heath.

What can we offer you if you decide to volunteer for the project?

1. Staff from the Millennium Seed Bank Project have offered to come down and help with training volunteers particularly with the seed collection.

2. Those who volunteer and are not familiar with the Lizards flora can link up with others who are and learn more about this fascinating area.

3. You will have some amazing days out in the field in this wonderful part of the county, learning not only about the plants, but how we manage the habitats, and see the work that has been carried out to help protect these important species.

4. All of the indoor work will take place at the Lizard NNR base at Higher Bochym which has comfortable facilities with copious supplies of tea/coffee with occasional cake as well.

5. Everyone volunteering will be registered with Natural England and will be entitled to claim a mileage allowance.

Steve Townsend and I have spent a day in the field with staff from Kew, we learned a lot, but one of the obvious things that occurred to us was: - We cannot hope to complete this important work without your help. So if you are interested in the project please get in touch by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or give us a ring at the NNR base on 01326 240808

Published: August 2014
Author: Ray Lawman (Senior Reserves Manager The Lizard NNR. Natural England.)