Plants: Biodiversity

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd June 2021.

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Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Conservative, North West Leicestershire

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the importance of (a) the Alcea collection and (b) other national plant collections to preserving the biodiversity of plants in the UK.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Defra values these national collections and the role they play in conservation. The Charity ‘Plant Heritage’ oversees the National Plant Collections and has a particular focus on rare cultivars, promoting the UK's horticultural heritage and engaging the public. The UK's first Alcea (Hollyhock) National Plant Collection in Lincolnshire is one of around 650 collections nationally. The Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Kew, which is a Defra arm's length body, is also a holder of some of these national collections. RBG Kew's Wakehurst National Collections like Nothofagus (southern beech) and Betula (birch) come from a range of global locations and may offer valuable indications of which species could be fit and functional in the long-term, in the face of biotic and abiotic threats. For instance, incorporation of the southern beech into our tree planting programmes could help to ensure functional future woodlands.

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