Since 2012, the Irati Proyectos company, based in Spain, promote the use of wild flowers for meadow creation in landscape architecture projects. In particular, native seed mixes of herbaceous flowers are used in peri-urban parks, to promote the characteristic biodiversity of the Mediterranean landscape. These experiences are also becoming useful models for many other projects dealing with urban landscape architecture.
In 2014 the Conservancy began working with NPS, and volunteers to restore the Park’s five meadows. Volunteer labor was used to clear invasive plants and sow a mixture of native warm-season grasses. Native seed collected from the Park was used to supplement a seed mix designed by well-known meadow expert Larry Weaner.
When we think about seed-based restoration, we usually refer to rehabilitation of large degraded patches of land to bring them back to the original natural or semi-natural state.
Rarely do we think about restoration activities integrated into the urban environment, with its patchwork of remnant ecosystems, designed parkland and utilitarian green infrastructure. The benefits of green urban areas are many, ranging from combating the urban heat island phenomenon to providing shelter for humans and wildlife. The choice of using native plants in these ecosystems may result in lower maintenance costs and help prevent a further spread of alien plants to surrounding rural and natural areas.
The BGCI - Botanic Gardens Conservation International launched the Global Seed Conservation Challenge Awards. With over 180 member gardens, the GSCC works to both support and challenge botanic gardens to work outside their garden walls to collect, bank and conserve seeds of threatened species towards Target 8 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. As part of the GSCC, BGCI will be awarding prizes for seed conservation at the 6th Global Botanic Garden Congress (6GBGC).
The National Native Seed Conference 2017 was held in Washington, D.C. from the 13th to the 16th of February, organized by the Institute for Applied Ecology. This biennial event brought together 350 participants from a wide array of stakeholder groups, restoration practitioners, researchers, native seed growers, land managers, and policy makers. Previously held in the western United States, the choice to hold the 2017 meeting in Washington, D.C. allowed for a new suite of individuals and organizations to be represented. Furthermore, being in the nation’s capital allowed scientists and practitioners to interact with congressmen, senators, lobbyists, and various components of the political system that they are typically far separated from. In a climate of diminishing environmental protection funding there was a strong emphasis on advocacy, especially for the Botanical Science bill, HR 1054. The conference was organized around the National Seed Strategy, and featured inspiring plenaries, oral presentations, panel discussions, roundtables, a lively poster session, and exhibits from the seed producers, seed testing agencies and professional societies.
Seed coating is the practice of covering seeds with external materials to improve handling, protection, and, to a lesser extent, germination enhancement and plant establishment. With an annual value exceeding US$1 billion dollars, this technology is mostly the preserve of the private research sector, with few links to the scientific community. Here, we analyse the science and industry of seed coating and its contribution to seed establishment and plant performance. We posit that a closer collaboration between academia and industry is critical to realising the potential of seed coating both as a tool for enhancing plant establishment in the face of the challenges posed to agricultural systems and to propel the multibillion-dollar global push for ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems.
Bonaire’s dry forest ecosystem has struggled in the last 500 years following aggressive deforestation by early European settlers and the introduction of invasive herbivores, including goats and donkeys. The Echo Foundation was established in 2010 with the goal of safeguarding the future of the native Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot (IUCN status: vulnerable). Currently, Echo is implementing a reforestation project that involves fencing to exclude the invasive herbivores and growing more than 30 species of native trees to plant in these areas, allowing the abundance and diversity of native plants to increase immediately. These herbivore exclusion zones will also provide recreational areas to encourage visitors and residents of the island to appreciate the benefits of habitat restoration. This project was mandated and funded by the local island government, openbaar licham Bonaire.
Botanic gardens are often thought of as places that showcase the beauty and diversity of plant life, but more seldom as institutions that can provide critical research and learning opportunities in places where exposure to these may be limited. However, botanic gardens are uniquely positioned to contribute to global restoration and conservation efforts through their botanical expertise and technical infrastructure.
The Chicago Botanic Garden has established a number of collaborative partnerships with regional educational institutions and national programs (like the Research Experience for Undergraduates funded by the National Science Foundation) and leads a prominent summer internship program that exposes students from underrepresented groups to plant biology and conservation through research. By fostering close interaction between the interns and their post-graduate student mentors, the participants not only learn about the research process from hypothesis formulation through experimental design, data collection, analysis, and presentation of their findings but also become intimately engaged in plant conservation and restoration ecology.
The NASSTEC (NAtive Seed Science, TEchnology and Conservation) is a European based project that involves academic and industrial partners. Its goal is to develop and share the science and the practice of native seed conservation, production and use in order to improve the availability of native seed and enhance the efficacy of seed based restoration.
In fact, without immediate enhancement of the capability in this specific area of biodiversity science, the native seed industry in Europe will fail to develop and to meet the demand of native seed for large-scale restoration activities.