Millennium Seed Bank Partnership in South Africa

Millennium Seed Bank Partnership logo

*Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) is an international ex situ plant conservation project aiming to collect and conserve seeds from 25% of the world’s orthodox plant species by 2020.

The project is working with partners across 50 countries including South Africa. It has been working in partnership with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) for the past ten years. A new agreement between the partners was signed in 2010 until 2015 with the intention to further renew it until 2020.Through the work of the Millennium Seed Bank partnership project in South Africa many plant species within our unique mega diverse flora will be safeguarded from extinction.

*Previously known as Millennium Seed Bank Project

What we do

Millennium Seed Bank

We make a significant contribution to conservation by collecting and banking the seeds from native wild plant species in the Millennium Seed Bank. The seeds, together with herbarium specimens and field data are collected and sent to the Millennium Seed Bank in the United Kingdom and duplicate collections are kept at the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre in Roodeplaat, near Pretoria. The seed can remain viable and available for use for hundreds of years.

Previous and current aims of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership project in South Africa

MSB Phase 1 (2000- 2010)
The principal aims were to collect 10% of South Africa’s flora by 2010, with the main focus on endemic, economically important and endangered species and to develop capacity in South Africa in support of seed conservation.

The Millennium Seed Bank partnership project in South Africa has successfully reached its first milestone by banking 10% of the countries wild plant species in the Millennium Seed Bank. The achievements of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership project in South Africa over the past decade provided a platform from which to develop a new strategy.

MSB Phase 2 (2010-2020)

Romulea cf hirta

The principal aim is to collect 2 500 of South Africa’s plant species by 2020 of which about 50% are of conservation concern and which includes 1000 threatened species.

In contributing to both SANBI’s conservation priorities and the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership’s vision the following broad aims were identified for the Millennium Seed Bank partnership project in South Africa:

  • Establish and maintain a co-ordinated seed collecting and conservation programme in South Africa, which focuses on national and international plant conservation priorities.
  • Build on current, and develop new capacity building and training opportunities to support the national and regional seed conservation effort.
  • Provide support to conservation partners through the use of collections, data and expertise.

Where we work

The MSBP project in South Africa has two divisions, one based at the National Herbarium in Pretoria and another based at Kirstenbosch National Botanical garden in Cape Town.

Reasons for our project

Drosera sp.

Plant species worldwide are under threat of becoming extinct. South Africa is no exception; several plant species are under threat due to habitat loss, invasive alien plants and various other threats. We also have a high number of endemic species.The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership in South Africa is working to safeguard these plant species that are most at risk.

An integral element of the collecting programme was the development of collaborations with partner institutions all around the world. These partnerships have as their basis the precepts of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in which resources and responsibilities are shared equitably. The aims of the MSBP are consistent with, and contribute significantly towards meeting the objectives of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). SANBI has over the duration of the partnership, made a significant contribution to the achievements of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership and to South Africa’s national targets under the GSPC.

What we have achieved

A collection of more than 2 500 South African species, representing 10% of the countries flora has been conserved and documented.

Through our collecting activities some plant species have been rediscovered.

Through collaborations with various partner institutions, companies and organisations we have been involved with various other collaborative activities including: habitat restoration, species rescuing, species re-introductions and land rehabilitation.

Who we are



Livhuwani Nkuna (Collections and Training Co-ordinator)

Victoria Wilman (Seed Collections Co-ordinator)


Since the inception of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership in South Africa it has established partnerships with various institutions, organisations and private companies country wide. These include:

  • Cape Nature
  • Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW)
  • De Beers Mines
  • Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority
  • Richards Bay Minerals
  • South African National Parks

How to contact us

Contact us at:

Last updated on 17 July 2012
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