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Millennium Seed Bank, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew was founded in 1759, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. Alongside Kew Gardens in London, Kew has a second country garden based at Wakehurst which is the home of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world. The MSBP’s focus is on global plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future. The seeds that the Partnership save are conserved outside their native habitat.

Working with their network of partners across 80 countries, they have successfully banked in excess of 10% of the world’s wild plant species. By targeting plants and regions most at risk from climate change and the ever-increasing impact of human activities, the MSBP aim to save 25% of those species with bankable seeds by 2020 (nominally 75,000 species).

The Brief

Once a seed has been collected, it is then dried to equilibrium with 15% relative humidity. Thereafter it is sealed in a glass container and placed in a cold room where it is kept at a temperature of -20°C. Given that some seeds may live for only a few decades, others for centuries and, in some cases, even millennia, the science of seed storage is such that the infrastructure and equipment used for storage should be able to withstand an extreme environment for an interminable period of time. This applies equally to the glass jars with seals that the seeds are stored in, to the shelving on which they are kept.

Alongside two other manufacturer’s, Link 51 were invited to tender for the supply of mobile shelving for the storage of seeds in the Millennium Seed Bank’s latest cold room – with three other cold rooms housing similar solutions, mobile shelving has proved to be a very efficient way to store seeds. Initial designs were submitted and Link 51 was awarded the contract.

The Solution

  • With temperatures of -20°C in the cold storage room (domestic deep freezers operate at -13°C), Link 51 initially tested their mobile system to ensure that it was capable of operating in an extreme environment.
  • Thereafter, Link 51 installed a storage solution based on a mix of 11 bays of static open braced Stormor shelving and 13 mobile units.

Key features of the solution include:

  • Shelving manufactured to BS5454 throughout using double-skimmed, smooth faced uprights offering clear unimpeded access for loading
  • The shelves feature a fixed front upstand to stop jars from being accidently dislodged when being accessed
  • All shelves are adjustable in height every 25mm
  • The mobile bases operating on fitted tracks, operated by mechanically-assisted tri-spoked hand wheels, which incorporate aisle locking mechanisms for user safety.

By using Link 51, Royal Botanic Gardens benefited from:

  • UK-based in-house manufacturing capability
  • Fully managed market-leading storage solutions
  • Extensive project management expertise
  • Substantial knowledge and experience
  • High-quality product range combining strength, durability and operational reliability

“Link 51 bid for the job and were successful based on best value. They were extremely thorough throughout and we were very happy with the quality of the installation, which was delivered on time and to budget.”

Keith R Manger, Laboratory Manager – Seed Conservation Department

For more information on any of the products specified for tthe Millennium Seed Bank please call us on 08000 733 300.

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