SINGAPORE - Singapore will have its first seed bank next year, storing seeds of up to 25,000 plant species, in an effort to protect local and regional plant diversity.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens Seed Bank will be set up by the National Parks Board (NParks) in House 4, the largest of the five colonial-style houses within the former Raffles College.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who announced the initiative on Saturday (April 21), said that seed banking is a form of insurance for plant biodiversity.
"It ensures that seeds will be available in future for research and restoration projects," he said, adding that it will enable the Botanic Gardens to support species reintroduction efforts throughout the region.
He was speaking at the opening of the inaugural Singapore Garden Festival Orchid Show at the Botanic Gardens, where more than 100 varieties of award-winning and heritage orchids are on display.
The seed bank will house a seed biology lab, rooms for seed processing and storage freezers. It will also have galleries for visitors to learn about seed banking and conservation work.
Work is expected to start later this year and be completed by mid-2019. It will have the capacity to store seeds from up to 25,000 species, nearly triple the 9,000 living plant species in the Gardens.
This is also half the total number of seed plant species in Southeast Asia.
The seed bank hopes to obtain 100 seed collections every year.
HSBC has donated $103,000 to kickstart the development of the facility.
The nine-day orchid show is the first part of the Singapore Garden Festival, which has expanded its format to include a main show at Gardens by the Bay in July, and a horticulture show next year.
More than 700 of the region's best orchid plants were submitted by breeders for the show, and 38 trophies were given out on Saturday.