What Is Seed Banking?

Seed Banking is the ex situ conservation of seeds, or the storage of seeds away from their natural habitats. Because seeds are easy to handle and require minimal storage space, seed banking is an economical approach to ensure the long-term survival of plant species faced with habitat destruction and ecological changes. This is not to say that seed banking is a substitute for the conservation of plants in their natural environment, known as in situ conservation, rather it is a powerful complement to that work.IMG_3768

A seed bank is a controlled environment in which germplasm (seed) can be stored to maintain viability for an extended period of time. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank, by international standards, is considered an active, mid-term storage facility. Seed collections that are stored at MARSB will be made available to the region for propagation and plant material development to serve the current and future needs of restorationists and land managers. These collections are stored under cool, dry conditions of 4 to 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) with 15% relative humidity.

Through our partnership with Seeds of Success (SOS), duplicate collections will be secured in long-term conservation storage at minus 20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). Two US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service facilities are responsible for the curation of these collections under agreement with the SOS program.