Climate change is causing the ranges of native species to shift northward at a pace that outstrips the ability of many plant species to migrate and adapt (Walther et al. 2002; Renwick & Rocca 2014). Although assisted migration, the process of relocating individuals or spread of seeds through human intervention, has been used successfully in some cases to preserve species, it comes saddled with potential ecological damage and legal complications arise when these ranges cross state lines. These complications threaten Virginia’s biodiversity, especially among rare plants and those plants from habitat affected most by climate change. In order to preserve the genetic diversity of native species before populations become isolated and inbred, this project proposes that Virginia create a seed bank. Seed banks have been used for a variety of reasons worldwide to preserve the genes of plants species, including for the preservation of crop species and for research purposes (Laliberte1997). For this proposed seed bank, Virginia would use information collected by the state Natural Heritage Program to identify eligible species that face the greatest threat from climate change in order to preserve biodiversity, establish a genetically diverse sample for research, and potentially reestablish these endangered species in the future.
Schmidt, Casey. "Proposal for a Virginia Seed Bank." Poster for Environmental Studies Senior Seminar, University of Richmond, April 21, 2015.