European Native Seed Conservation Network (ENSCONET)

Welcome page to the ENSCONET website

Over the last two decades, many time-bound obligations for in situ and ex situ conservation and sustainable use of native plant diversity have been accepted within Europe at both the national and regional level. Seed collections held under long-term storage conditions and their associated germination and location data play a key role in meeting these obligations. The collections themselves are a major form of ex situ conservation. At the same time they are a source of research material and data for conservationists and the wider plant research community.

However such research infrastructures are usually part of independent institutes often working at a local scale. A group of 24 such institutes from 18 European countries (covering 9 of Europe’s bio-geographical regions) led by RBG Kew established a network to co-ordinate and enhance their activities under the EU’s 6th Research Framework Programme. The European Native Seed Conservation Network (ENSCONET) recognises the current high levels of effort which are duplicated in establishing and improving methodologies for seed collecting, curation and data management by working independently. The elimination of wasted effort will allow these resources to be redirected to establish links with other research activities within the EU that will further increase the quality of plant conservation, restoration and sustainable use.

Within 5 years, the network expects to have shared and spread good practice, developed common databases and undertaken foresight studies. ENSCONET members seek to further integrate their activities at a bioregional scale though meetings, joint activities and exchange visits. Special efforts will be made to achieve a better public understanding of this aspect of plant science and conservation.

The network is organised in four areas of activity; seed collection, curation, data management and dissemination. These activities are guided by and report to the Annual network meeting. In between these meetings a small management committee will oversee progress and maintain the overall focus of the network on delivering the plans in this proposal.

ENSCONET has provided a platform for discussion and exchange of experiences through annual meetings, workshops and exchange visits.  It has worked on a bioregional level to generate collecting lists of priority species.  ENSCONET has produced collecting and curation manuals, documenting best practice from across the network, which have been translated into a number of languages.  Partners have shared their data in a publically accessible database, the Virtual Seed Bank, which holds nearly 42,000 collections from 9300 taxa and over 21,000 germination tests.  Dissemination activities have included the publication of an annual bulletin and an online Virtual Seed Bank Tour.

Project Team

Project Leader: Linington, Simon

Seed Conservation Department

Ruth Eastwood (ENSCONET Data assistant ), Simon Linington (Chair of ENSCONET Management Team), Jonas Müller (Coordinator of ENSCONET)

Project Partners and Collaborators


Universität Wien

University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna


National Botanic Garden Belgium


Agricultural Research Institute

Frederick Institute of Technology


Helsinki Botanic Garden


Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle Paris


Botanic Garden and Museum Berlin


Mediterranean Agronomic Institute Chania (Crete)

National and Kapodistrian University, Athens


Budapest Zoo

Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Trinity College Dublin


Museo Tridentino di Scienze Naturali Trento

Università di Pavia / Centro Flora Autoctona della Lombardia

Universita di Pisa, Horto Botanico


Museum of Natural History, Luxembourg


Botanical Garden, Oslo


Botanical Garden Polish Academy of Sciences Warsaw

Forest Gene Bank Kostrzyca


Institute of Botany, Bratislava


IMGEMA-Jardín Botánico de Córdoba

Jardi Botanic de Soller (Mallorca)

Jardín Botánico Atlántico de Gijón

Jardin Botanico Gran Canaria

Universidad Politecnica de Madrid

Universitat de Valencia


European Community, Sixth Research Framework Programme