Ex situ and in situ conservation.
Ex situ conservation means that the species is preserved outside its natural habitat. The genetic material can be preserved in different ways: seed bank, DNA collections, tissue cultures, pollen bank, or collections of living plants. All methods require good documentation on how and when the plant material was collected. Official ex situ conservation also involves ensuring the collection's sustainability by periodically checking the seeds' germination capability and replacing / complementing them if seed viability is low.
In situ conservation means that the species is preserved in its natural habitat. To avoid the risk of destroying the habitat, this can be done by protecting the area.
Ex situ conservation of a species can provide the opportunity to study a species' biology to consider whether the species is suitable for restoration and reintroduction. By creating a collection of live material we can study the species without destroying endangered wild populations. For long-term survival, in situ conservation is, of course, more important. Ex situ conservation can be viewed as complementary to in situ conservation and acts as an insurance policy for survival when a species is seriously threatened in its natural habitat.
Work on ex situ conservation of endangered plants in Norway has only just begun, with the creation of action plans for a limited range of red-listed species. There remains much to do, however. The botanical gardens network in Norway is working to:
• develop collections of seeds and plants for use in conservation, restoration work and research
• promote communication and teaching about endangered species
The seed bank is located in the Botanical Garden of the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo. We record the following data on all the seeds in the collection: species name, date of collection, place of collection with coordinates, altitude, collector's name, number of plant specimens the seeds were collected from, Red List status and any comments on the status of the population and the specific site.
The seed material is dried and cleaned and initially kept in cold storage at 8 degrees C, 15% RH. When the current year's harvest has been logged in the database, the seeds of each species are packed in airtight aluminum bags and added to the long-term freezer store at -20 degrees C.