Its flagship operation is the ‘National Collection’ scheme of which there are now more than six hundred and twenty throughout Britain. Each collection is a ‘living plant library’ dedicated to a specific genus. They safeguard these invaluable resources of genetic plant material that are available for research and propagation purposes.
The collection holders are the custodians of plant material that could prove to be of great importance within the whole science of biodiversity, conservation and the reintroduction of threatened species. Almost half the collections are in private ownership and include allotments, back gardens and large estates. Collections are also held with local authorities, universities, horticultural colleges, arboreta and botanic gardens plus commercial nurseries. Some collections are growing at properties owned by English Heritage and the National Trusts of both England and Scotland.
At a recent press event, Plant Heritage announced that it has taken up the challenge laid down by the United Nations Environment Programme to ensure that the genetic diversity of cultivated plants is safeguarded by 2020. For the first time cultivated plants and plants with socio-economic and cultural value have been included in new international targets through the strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 – 2020.
Speaking at the announcement, Mike Buffin, Plant Conservation committee Chairman said ‘’The new global targets now place an importance on cultivated plants along with their wild equivalents, Plant Heritage will help spearhead the conservation of the UK’s great heritage of garden plants’’