One of the most important aims of modern botanical gardens is broadly understood environmental conservation. The gardens focus on the type of conservation effort that is called in Latin ex situ, which means “outside of the natural location of the species”. One of the methods within this approach is seed banking, i.e. keeping them in controlled temperature and humidity conditions for a long period. It allows to keep them in full vitality, mostly “just in case”, i.e. so that it would be possible to sow them in case the species became extinct.
In 2011 a regional seed bank was established at the Silesian Botanical Garden. Its main purpose is the storage of seeds of rare and disappearing species which are important for the Silesian Voivodeship and neighboring voivodeships. In addition, the seed bank collects seeds of plants typical for selected types of habitats. They are often not threatened by extinction, but are important for a proper functioning of valuable and protected plant communities which they inhabit. The seeds gathered in the bank will be used for species reintroduction, habitat reconstruction and population reinforcement. In future it is planned that seeds of old varieties of arable plants, which were cultivated in Silesia in the past, shall be stored too.
Among others, the Silesian Seed Bank holds a collection of seeds gathered at the Katowice International Airport in Pyrzowice – the location of the project coordinated by the Department of Habitat Collections that was mentioned in Chapter 3. The seeds belong to species such as marsh gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe L.) or Siberian iris (Iris sibirica L.). The plants grown from the seeds will be used for population reinforcement after the transference of habitats to the Radzionkow Botanical Garden. The SiBG participated in another project which required seed collection – “Protection and reconstruction of destroyed and threatened habitats: xerothermic and dry grasslands and mesic meadows of the Annaberg Landscape Park”, led by the Union of Opole Region Landscape Parks. As part of this project, seeds of many plant species were collected, including: Carthusian pink (Dianthus carthusianorum L.), northern bedstraw (Galium boreale L.) and cut leaved germander (Teucrium botrys L.).