Perspectives

Seeds Deserve a Place in the New Global Biodiversity Framework

Terraformation
January 15, 2023
Photo of trees from above

Dear COP15 Delegates,

Restoring nature starts with seeds. 

As members of the Seed to Forest Alliance, we strongly believe that several of the new targets in the Global Biodiversity Framework should address seed banking for native seeds. 

Seed banking is the practice of collecting, processing, and saving native seeds for conservation. Seeds can be stored long-term to preserve threatened species, or short- and medium-term, in large quantities, to restore biodiverse ecosystems. One of the biggest hurdles to global restoration is a lack of access to seeds — that’s a problem seed banking can solve. 

We are pleased to see seeds mentioned twice in the latest draft language for the Framework. Both of these mentions show up as part of Target 10, which supports the establishment of seed banks in developing countries for sustainable agriculture and forestry. 

But seed banking isn’t just for agriculture. It’s also an essential tool for restoring native ecosystems (Target 2), creating local sustainable livelihoods (Target 19), and activating the full potential of nature to capture carbon and meet global climate mitigation potential (Target 8). 

Earlier this year, Terraformation published a Global Seed Bank Index, which shows that, in order to meet global restoration potential over the next 10 years, the world will require thousands more seed banks. The need is most urgent in biodiversity hotspots — yet many of the countries that are home to these hotspots have fewer than three known seed banks to store native species. That not only makes it more difficult to protect and repair these priceless ecosystems, it means there is little to no backup seed supply to respond to emergencies. As the climate crisis brings more frequent disasters like wildfire and drought, storing seeds becomes even more important.  

The Seed to Forest Alliance calls on all of the COP15 delegates to emphasize seeds even more strongly in the new Framework, and to specifically address the vital role of seed banking in restoring ecosystems and mitigating climate change. 

This is our chance to mobilize the world’s finances, skills, and technology to restore our planet. A greater focus on seeds would: 

  • Mobilize governments to fund the establishment and maintenance of seed banking infrastructure to preserve native species for restoration;
  • Catalyze nations to support seed bank training and education to build a workforce for the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration;
  • Prompt greater innovation from the public and private sectors for low-cost and decentralized seed processing and storage solutions that support nature restoration teams; and
  • Encourage businesses to include support for local community seed banking and seed supply systems to achieve nature-positive goals.

Now is the time to address the world’s urgent need for seed storage. By giving seed banking the attention it deserves, we will set the stage for robust, high-impact restoration of biodiverse ecosystems in the decade ahead. 

Sincerely, 

Members of the Seed to Forest Alliance:

Yishan Wong, CEO, Terraformation

Kevin O’Hara, Lead, 1T.org US, American Forests

Bill Toomey, Chief Operating Officer, One Tree Planted

Paul Smith, Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International

Eduardo Malta Campos Filho, Coordinator of Forest Restoration, Instituto Socioambiental - ISA

Stay in touch

Sign up for our newsletter to follow us on our journey to reverse climate change.

submit newsletter signup