Ex situ Conservation Efforts for Plant Diversity Protection with A Focus on Seeds

Hyejin Lee1, *
1 Institute for International Development Cooperation, Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea

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Creative Commons License
© 2023 Hyejin Lee

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Institute for International Development Cooperation, Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea; E-mail:


Plant diversity underpins ecological systems and provides materials that sustain humanity. Yet, plant diversity is being lost at a rate unparalleled in recent history, and the threat largely comes from anthropogenic pressures. As an effort to halt the continuing loss of global plant diversity, ex situ conservation has been gaining momentum. This article reviews the current ex situ conservation approaches with particular attention to botanic gardens, seed banks, cryopreservation, and seed vaults. Botanic gardens and conventional seed banks present their advantages and issues for effective plant conservation with cryopreservation complementing them in useful ways. Seed vaults that store seeds permanently occupy a unique place in plant conservation efforts. Of the two existing vaults, the Svalbard vault appears to have established itself as a global institution for the public good by safeguarding food and agriculture seed. The Korean vault, a relatively newer institution, may need further strategic efforts to build its clear identity and comparative niche, and distinguish itself as a global facility. While sustainably conserving plant diversity is an uphill challenge, increasing participation in ex situ conservation will certainly facilitate coping with the challenge.

Keywords: Agriculture, Botanic garden, Ex situ, Plant diversity, Seed bank, Seed vault.