National Native Seed Conference 2017

By the INSR board

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.

To kick off the meeting, participants were able to learn about regional conservation and restoration efforts through a variety of field trip options to area institutions like the U.S. National Arboretum, the U.S. Botanic Garden Production Facility, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, the Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center, and Dumbarton Oaks Park.

Figure 1 Staff at the Norman A. Berg Plant Materials Center demonstrated seed cleaning techniques as part of a field trip.

Figure 1 Staff at the Norman A. Berg Plant Materials Center demonstrated seed cleaning techniques as part of a field trip.

Figure 2. As part of the visit to the US National Arboretum, we toured the National Seed Herbarium –  a unique facility that is at a risk of losing funding (like many other collections at this time) despite the utility and importance of the singular collection.

Figure 2. As part of the visit to the US National Arboretum, we toured the National Seed Herbarium –  a unique facility that is at a risk of losing funding (like many other collections at this time) despite the utility and importance of the singular collection.

While this is the National Native Seed Conference of the United States, there were 23 attendees representing an additional 12 countries, reflecting growing activity, interest and progress in the native seed sector.  Native seed projects from around the world were the focus of one of the thematic sessions. The International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR) held its first symposium titled “Get smart in using native seeds”. This half-day session featured eight speakers from five continents (Africa, Australia, Europe, North and South America), who discussed their empirical and practical efforts related to the use of native plant material for ecological restoration. The sessions served as an opportunity to learn about on-going efforts, challenges, and successes with native plant restoration around the globe and expanded the potential for research collaboration and technical knowledge sharing.

In its fourth rendition, the National Native Seed Conference continues to provide a unique and valuable opportunity for the cross-pollination of ideas across the spheres of research, practice, and industry, facilitating free discussion and formulation of strategies for native seed use in ecological restoration.

Review the schedule, abstracts, workshops and field trips on the conference website and take a virtual visit on social media with #nnsc17.