Ethical seed sourcing is a key issue in meeting global restoration targets

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wild seeds are needed to restore plant ecosystems globally but over harvesting risks their depletion unless ethical seed-sourcing regulations are developed, Curtin University research has found. A paper, just published in journal Current Biology, concluded that inadequate regulatory frameworks controlling wild-seed sourcing, limited farming capacity and seed wastage are impeding moves towards the sustainable practice of native-seed collection.

Lead author Dr Paul Nevill, from the ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration (CMSR) in Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Australia, said resources continued to be eroded by habitat loss, land degradation and climatic change. Without robust regulatory measures to meet the global demand to revegetate plant populations, over-collection of seeds from wild populations threatens further erosion.

The wild harvesting of seed at scales required to meet global restoration demands is not sustainable, therefore ethical seed-sourcing for restoration now represents a core issue in responsible restoration practice. Dr Nevill said investment in native seed farms founded on robust business models to ensure their long-term commercial viability, the introduction of a regulatory framework to ensure the integrity of seed quality, and the development of seed enhancement and precision seeding technologies to ensure the maximum conversion of seed to plants was needed.

Paper co-author and CMSR Director John Curtin Distinguished Professor Kingsley Dixon said seeds remained the most cost-effective means for large-scale restoration because they were portable, easy to sow and harvest, suitable for long-term storage and especially easy to deliver. However, Professor Dixon warned that because seed production for most plants followed a lengthy, high-risk process of flowering, pollination and seed maturation, plants might be unable to compensate for sudden losses in seed outputs as a result of harvesting.

These declines could potentially lead to a loss of resilience for the whole ecosystem, particularly as drying climates are expected to reduce seed production rates and alter seed maturation and seed persistence in soil. We advocate a range of measures to achieve more ethical seed-sourcing for ecological restoration that will also provide commercial returns and value to governments and communities. Solutions include the introduction of regulatory frameworks controlling seed sourcing from wild populations, the development of seed farming capacity and advancement of seed enhancement technologies and precision delivery systems reducing seed wastage.


Link to the article https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(18)31481-7

Soil seed banks: a sneak preview into the future

Soil seed banks: a sneak preview into the future

Many arid land plants possess seed dormancy, enabling them to delay germination until receiving environmental cues that stimulate development. Dormant seeds within the soil create seed banks that are a valuable resource for regeneration of native plant communities after disturbance. Seed germination and soil seed bank research is important to better understand soil seed bank dynamics, appropriately select restoration seed mixes, and gauge the restoration potential contained within existing soil seed banks.

Seed-based restoration of damaged Mediterranean coastal habitats: the Sardinia case

Seed-based restoration of damaged Mediterranean coastal habitats: the Sardinia case

The Mediterranean Basin is one of the most important plant diversity hotspots worldwide; however, its sandy coasts are affected by strong erosive processes, also accentuated by the disappearance of dune and submerged vegetation caused by human exploitation. Therefore, in the Mediterranean area the plant species conservation and ecological habitat restoration are of major importance for sustainable development.

The International Seed Society’s Second Seed Longevity Workshop

The International Seed Society’s Second Seed Longevity Workshop

The USDA Agricultural Research Service’s National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation hosted the International Society for Seed Science’s (ISSS) Second Seed Longevity Workshop at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, on July 20 – August 1, 2018.  About 100 participants from 22 countries attended.  ISSS aims to foster and promote research, education and communication in the scientific understanding of seeds.  The workshop is held to discuss current findings and propose new directions for future research on seed longevity. Papers from the meeting will be available later in a Special Issue of Seed Science Research “Seeds, Conservation and Biodiversity”.

Roadside Revegetation – An Integrated Approach to Establishing native Plants and Pollinator Habitat and the Ecoregional Revegetation Application Tool

Roadside Revegetation – An Integrated Approach to Establishing native Plants and Pollinator Habitat and the Ecoregional Revegetation Application Tool

Roadsides can play an important role in the conservation of both native plants and declining wild and managed pollinator species.  In an effort to enhance the success of roadside revegetation projects and create habitat that is favorable for pollinators, the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USFS) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) partnered with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Chicago Botanic Garden to release a new DRAFT manual:  Roadside Revegetation – An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants and Pollinator Habitat. 

How to pellet seeds

How to pellet seeds

This publication provides the first public domain and practical step-by-step guide on how to do seed pelleting, along with the list of materials and equipment needed. These instructions and materials will help scientists develop seed coating technologies capable of overcoming logistical and biological barriers to the more effective use and deployment of native seed across the world while enabling the native seed industry to improve seed-based restoration.

Formation of the European Native Seed Producers Association

Formation of the European Native Seed Producers Association

A Dutch, a French and an Irishman walk into a German native seed farm.

That’s quite a good start for a joke based on national stereotypes. But when the Dutch, French and Irishman are followed by the Scottish, Spanish, Danish, German, Italian, English, Swedish, Czech, Polish, Swiss, Austrian and a Portuguese (on crutches) the joke might be getting a bit out of hand. And they’re not visiting just one farm. They’re on a mission to fit as many native seed companies as possible in a super tight five days schedule across most of Germany, and Switzerland.