FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (AP) - Seeds from hundreds of rare plant species around New England are being collected and frozen inside a "seed ark" for future use and to keep the plants from becoming extinct.

Inside the freezer at a botanical garden near Boston are tightly sealed packages containing an estimated 6 million seeds collected from hundreds of rare and obscure species.

It's a way of preserving the genetic material of plants that could die out because of natural disasters, climate change or even simply being trampled afoot by unsuspecting hikers.

The New England Wild Flower Society is heading the project in Framingham.

A 2015 survey found that more than a fifth of the 3,500 known plant species in the region were considered rare or in decline.