Japan wants to preserve seeds of endangered species

The Environment Ministry in Japan is set to dry, freeze and preserve the seeds of 1,690 species of plants that it fears are on the verge of extinction, ministry officials said. The ministry has designated 1,690 of about 7,000 types of plants, including nonflowering plants such as fiddlehead ferns, as endangered species, and intends to preserve the seeds of most of them. “The method of drying and freezing seeds allows us to preserve a large number of seeds. It’s effective in preventing their extinction,” a ministry official said. In the project to be launched in October, the ministry will cooperate with botanical gardens and research institutes across the country to collect seeds of the endangered plants from their habitats. It will then dry them while maintaining their ability to put forth buds and preserve them in a freezer at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Gyoen park that is 20 degrees Celsius below freezing point. Experts say seeds can be preserved for tens of years if frozen. The protection of plants on the verge of extinction is important for conserving biodiversity. A total of 26 botanical gardens across the country are cooperating in growing endangered plants, but there has been no example of systematically preserving seeds of such plants until now. (Source: The Mainichi Daily News)

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