LIFE Project Cover Photo

Establishment of the Pannon Seed Bank for the long-term ex situ conservation of Hungarian vascular wild plants

Reference: LIFE08 NAT/H/000288 | Acronym: HUSEEDBANK

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Approximately 2 200 wild vascular plant species occur in Hungary within the Pannonian biogeographical region ? a region rich in biodiversity and endemic species. Since 2003, the country?s complex nature conservation objectives have been determined by a national nature conservation master plan ? part of the country?s environmental programme. In-situ (on-site) conservation has received high attention, although it is becoming extremely important to establish the national basis for ex-situ (off-site) conservation as well.

At the same time, the (2006) EU Biodiversity Action Plan ? and ensuing EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 ? aim to identify and fill in critical gaps in the ex-situ conservation programmes for wild species. A proposed ?Pannon Seed Bank? for the long-term ex-situ conservation of Hungarian vascular wild plants would meet this requirement. Without the establishment of a seed bank some species and the richness of the Pannonian flora may be threatened by extinction.


OBJECTIVES

The main objective of the LIFE+ Biodiversity project, HUSEEDBANK, was to establish a Pannonian Sseed bank Bank for the long-term preservation of seeds of the wild vascular flora of the Pannonian biogeographical region to aid in-situ species? conservation activities. As well as providing increased security in the event of accidental loss or degradation of endangered rare species, the seed bank should provide additional opportunities for monitoring genetic changes in wild populations and material for habitat restoration activities. Additionally it would facilitate access to research and education material, and assist multidisciplinary studies on maintaining diversity and stability in plant associations.

Specifically, the HUSEEDBANK project aimed to:

  • Establish storing and laboratory capacity for the Pannon Seed Bank at the Centre for Plant Diversity by expanding the current functions of the existing crop gene bank by using professional expertise, existing knowledge and infrastructure in a cost-effective way;
  • Expand the existing functions of the existing agricultural gene bank at the research centre for agro botany (Tápiószele) of the central agricultural office by using professional expertise, existing knowledge and infrastructure (storage and laboratory capacity) in a cost-effective way;
  • Collect and store by project end, approx. 50% of the Hungarian native flora (at least 800 species). A strategy and methodology would be developed for seed collection and storing of wild vascular plants, assessing the existing seed collection and ex-situ storage methodologies;
  • Develop a computer-based information system for data management of the Pannonian Seed Bank;
  • Establish storage capacity capacities for duplicates at two geographically different locations: in a mine in the Aggtelek National Park, and at the Institute of Ecology and botany Botany in Vácrátót;
  • Select seed bank samples to be used for pilot reintroduction in a typical sand steppe community with priority habitats in the Kiskunság National Park, a Natura 2000 site; and
  • Carry out an intensive communication programme targeting a professional audience, students, general public, stakeholders, political decision-makers and international experts.

  • RESULTS

    The HUSEEDBANK project achieved all its objectives. As planned, the LIFE team established the Pannon Seed Bank for the long-term preservation of seeds of the wild vascular flora of the Pannonian biogeographical region, through expanding the functions of the existing agricultural gene bank.

    By the end of the project, the team had collected and stored seeds of 912 species, which was more than the originally expected 800 species (i.e. more than 50% of the Hungarian native flora). By 2014, some 800 species were processed (cleaned, documented, tested in germination etc); with an additional 112 species types processed in spring 2015. The majority of the species are those of nature conservation importance (204 protected species and 45 strictly protected species) and also Natura 2000, endemic and sub-endemic species; as well as species types of ecological and economic importance.

    Thus, the project has effectively contributed to the objectives of the main European and global initiatives focusing on conservation of biodiversity. The team tested and proved that reintroduction of stored seeds is possible for habitat restoration. Many visitors were also attracted by the project?s exhibitions and interactive and mobile educational tools (e.g. games).

    An important innovative aspect of the project is that most of the species conserved by the Pannon Seed Bank were germinated in laboratory conditions for the first time, and germination protocols were developed for them. Appropriate methods for collection and adequate storage of endemic plant seeds were also developed. Moreover, there had been only a few attempts so far, to use the seed bank material for species reintroduction. Finding the best ways of successful seeding, propagation and site management on former fields in the sand grassland habitats of Kiskunság National Park was another innovative element of the project.

    Finally, this project is significant in that it was the first initiative in the Pannonian region to fill the knowledge and infrastructure gaps in this field, as prior to its launch, neither the seed bank establishment methodology, nor infrastructure for the ex-situ seed conservation of vascular wild plants of the biogeographical region existed. Best practices, outputs and lessons learnt from the project are now available and can be applied by other countries, especially neighbouring ones within the biogeographical region.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan(see "Read more" section).

    The HUSEEDBANK project achieved all its objectives. As planned, the LIFE team established the Pannon Seed Bank for the long-term preservation of seeds of the wild vascular flora of the Pannonian biogeographical region, through expanding the functions of the existing agricultural gene bank.

    By the end of the project, the team had collected and stored seeds of 912 species, which was more than the originally expected 800 species (i.e. more than 50% of the Hungarian native flora). By 2014, some 800 species were processed (cleaned, documented, tested in germination etc); with an additional 112 species types processed in spring 2015. The majority of the species are those of nature conservation importance (204 protected species and 45 strictly protected species) and also Natura 2000, endemic and sub-endemic species; as well as species types of ecological and economic importance.

    Thus, the project has effectively contributed to the objectives of the main European and global initiatives focusing on conservation of biodiversity. The team tested and proved that reintroduction of stored seeds is possible for habitat restoration. Many visitors were also attracted by the project?s exhibitions and interactive and mobile educational tools (e.g. games).

    An important innovative aspect of the project is that most of the species conserved by the Pannon Seed Bank were germinated in laboratory conditions for the first time, and germination protocols were developed for them. Appropriate methods for collection and adequate storage of endemic plant seeds were also developed. Moreover, there had been only a few attempts so far, to use the seed bank material for species reintroduction. Finding the best ways of successful seeding, propagation and site management on former fields in the sand grassland habitats of Kiskunság National Park was another innovative element of the project.

    Finally, this project is significant in that it was the first initiative in the Pannonian region to fill the knowledge and infrastructure gaps in this field, as prior to its launch, neither the seed bank establishment methodology, nor infrastructure for the ex-situ seed conservation of vascular wild plants of the biogeographical region existed. Best practices, outputs and lessons learnt from the project are now available and can be applied by other countries, especially neighbouring ones within the biogeographical region.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Conservation Plan(see "Read more" section).

    ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE08 NAT/H/000288
    Acronym: HUSEEDBANK
    Start Date: 01/01/2010
    End Date: 31/12/2014
    Total Budget: 969,090 €
    EU Contribution: 401,737 €
    Project Location:

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Research Centre for Agrobiodiversity
    Legal Status: PUBLIC
    Address: Küls? mez?, 15, POB Pf.6, 2766, Tápiószele, Hungary Magyarország
    Contact Person: Borbála BAKTAY
    Email: baktay@rcat.hu
    Tel: +36 53 380069
    Website:


    LIFE Project Map

    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Plants

    KEYWORDS

    • conservation of genetic resources
    • biodiversity
    • endangered species

    TARGET EU LEGISLATION

    • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
    • COM(2011) 244 final ?Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020? (03.05.2011)
    • Regulation 338/97 - Protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein - EU Wildlife Trade Regulation (09.12.1996)

    TARGET HABITAT TYPES

    • 2340 - Pannonic inland dunes
    • 6260 - Pannonic sand steppes

    SPECIES

    • None or non applicable

    NATURA 2000 SITES

    Type Code Name
    SCI HUKN20011 Fülöpházi homokbuckák

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    Research Centre for Agrobiodiversity Coordinator
    Institute of Ecology and Botany of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary Participant
    Aggtelek National Park Directorate, Hungary Participant

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